Will mungs be worth it?

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News - PAUL MCINTOSH

I HAVE a talk to present to the Aus­tralian Mung­bean As­so­ci­a­tion reg­u­lar meet­ing on Fri­day, about why you would plant mung beans this sum­mer.

I can an­swer for the farmer and it is usu­ally about turn­ing their avail­able soil mois­ture into dol­lars.

So when agron­o­mists or oth­ers sit the AMA in­dus­try ac­cred­i­ta­tion course, there is a pre­dicted yield chart in the gen­eral agron­omy sec­tion about turn­ing stored sub-soil mois­ture into mung bean yields in ei­ther very wet years or very dry years.

For ex­am­ple at Dalby in an av­er­age in-crop rain­fall year – what­ever that is – with a start­ing pro­file of mois­ture of 110mm, the crop can yield about 1.75 tonne per ha.

Not bad, and at $1000 per tonne giv­ing you a gross in­come of $1750 per ha it is easy math­e­mat­ics.

How­ever that is not the full story as to whether to grow mung beans or not this com­ing sum­mer.

The dol­lar re­turns are not bad and the day­time tem­per­a­tures we will get this sum­mer en­sure a short grow­ing time scale for mungs in the pad­dock of less than 100 days.

Once again, not the full story of whether to plant mung beans or not.

Yes, the adage of short and quick does the trick is true, as it al­lows us to con­sider a double crop into a mid to late win­ter planted crop.

Now by the book that should be a ce­real crop, how­ever many have planted chick­peas into old mung bean ground and then the big­gest weed in our favourite win­ter legume crop is mung beans.

So fu­ture crop­ping al­ter­na­tives is an­other con­sid­er­a­tion.

What other as­pects do you con­sider agro­nom­i­cally?

Well, they are a legume and pro­vided you get in­oc­u­la­tion bac­te­ria sur­viv­ing on the seed into the moist soil pro­file, you can as­sume the ni­tro­gen re­quire­ment is taken care of.

So no major in­puts of 125 to 180kg of N into a sum­mer coarse grain crop pre-ap­plied.

We al­ways prob­a­bly need a ap­pli­ca­tion of starter fer­tiliser of phos­pho­rous plus or mi­nus zinc, for any crop in sum­mer.

With the bat­tle for weed con­trol in our sum­mer crops, ro­ta­tion of crop­ping and there­fore ro­ta­tion of her­bi­cides is a big con­sid­er­a­tion.

Grass con­trol and broadleaf weed con­trol in all our sum­mer and win­ter crops is lean­ing more to resid­ual type her­bi­cides and th­ese can lock you in no mat­ter what the weather does.

For ex­am­ple, ap­ply 2kg of Atrazine 900 in Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber sorghum and there could be some major risks, in an­tic­i­pat­ing to grow a wheat or bar­ley crop in there, if pro­file mois­ture was sud­denly full in May 2018.

How would you de­ter­mine if the resid­ual qual­i­ties of the atrazine have dis­ap­peared enough to en­able a wheat crop to grow?

The la­bel only re­flects the farm­ing prac­tices from many years ago and noth­ing like we do now, so the resid­ual length or plant back to sen­si­tive crops may well be dif­fer­ent.

So while mung beans are shorter in grow­ing time and prob­a­bly soil wa­ter us­age, they also use some dif­fer­ent her­bi­cides that al­low IT friendly wheat and bar­ley va­ri­eties to be planted.

Di­ver­sity of her­bi­cide mode of ac­tion by di­ver­sity of crop­ping sys­tems needs to be part of your pro­gram or you will end up us­ing more cul­ti­va­tion and more time spent on a chip­ping hoe, be­fore weed seed set, no mat­ter what crop you are plant­ing.

Let us chat about my ex­pe­ri­ences last sum­mer.

It was hot with many record tem­per­a­tures, par­tic­u­larly post Christmas.

It was also very dry un­til Cy­clone Deb­bie came through at the end of March.

On the Dar­ling Downs, in our black soil, the temps were reach­ing well over 60 de­grees on the soil sur­face.

Other lo­ca­tions may have even been hot­ter.

In my many trav­els around the area I ob­served mung bean crops hang­ing on.

They were still green about 30-odd cen­time­tres high and still try­ing to flower and pod, after be­ing in the hot ground for 60–90 days.

Grain sorghum right next door was nearly white and some small grain heads were well down in the boot.

A ter­ri­ble sight last sea­son for any farmer or agro.

Sure, the yields of ei­ther crop were not good, how­ever it re­ally did sur­prise me to see how tough our mung bean va­ri­eties had be­come.

Th­ese are some of the con­sid­er­a­tions you and your agro will need to dis­cuss for the com­ing sum­mer sea­son.

We need rain­fall to fill soil pro­files for any crop after last sum­mer and our dry win­ter, so along with good agro­nomics and per­haps some friendly type rain­fall about 30 days post-plant of your mung bean crop, it will be a much more prof­itable year for our clean and green mung bean crop.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

FAST CASH: There are a few fac­tors to con­sider when de­cid­ing whether mung beans will be your best bet this sea­son.

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