Warm summer season could favour local bean growers
AUSTRALIAN Mungbean Association vice-president Damien White said the forecast for a drier than average summer could favour mungbean this season.
“Mungbean is the fastest maturing of the summer crop options, with very high water use efficiency,” he said.
“In a dry year this could make mungbean the crop to offer the lowest risk and highest potential return to growers. When conditions could be less than ideal but the potential returns high, it is all the more important to establish the best crop possible at optimal row width and plant density.
“The DAF research has provided compelling evidence to support a change to narrow row spacing wherever it is possible.”
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries researcher Kerry McKenzie said their GRDC-funded trials at four
CROP ESTABLISHMENT: Well-nodulated mungbeans are self-sufficient in nitrogen and will contribute to soil fertility and condition for the following crop. Sowing on narrower rows improves yield and increases nitrogen fixation, regardless of the seasonal condition or variety sown. sites in Queensland had demonstrated that agronomic decisions at planting did influence crop yield and nitrogen fixation.
In the trials all varieties performed as well or better at 0.5m or 0.25m spacing rather than the traditional summer crop spacing of 1m.
“Growers are likely to see a benefit if they plant mungbean at 50cm or less but that doesn’t mean they need to spend more on seed,” he said. “Plant population per metre square did not greatly influence yield so the standard 20–30 plants per square metre remains the recommendation.”
When choosing paddocks for mungbean it is necessary to be very cautious of residual herbicides such as metsulfuron, chlorsulfuron and picloram used over winter or the previous summer.
Herbicides with residual action break down over time, but the time taken depends on factors such as soil pH, soil type, stubble levels, rainfall and the application rate. It is well worth checking that it is safe to plant before planting a sensitive, high value crop like mungbean.
Pulse Australia northern industry development manager Paul McIntosh suggested growers also test for soil nutrition, particularly for potassium, sulphur, phosphorus and zinc, in the 0–15, 15–30 and 30–70cm zones to give an indication of where in the profile nutrients may limit growth.
“With mungbean being such a short-lived plant it is important not to restrict access to nutrients early in the crop’s development,” he said.
“There needs to be good soil moisture, sufficient to form a moist ball in your hand, to a depth of 60cm, and no sub-soil constraints such as sodium or chloride.”
Mr McIntosh sees mungbean as a very viable alternative to other summer crop options, being a quick, low cost and high return crop.