A COMBINATION of strong prices and solid rainfall in December and early January has prompted more croppers to plant mungbeans as an opportunity crop.
At prices of up to $1200 a tonne, mungbeans are currently one of the more profitable options to take advantage of the recently available soil moisture.
About 30,000 hectares have been planted for the summer crop, and the 12,000ha spring-sown crop is about to be harvested.
AgVantage Commodities chief executive officer Steve Dalton said the crop, with a 100- to 110-day turnaround, would be planted in smaller areas, but prices made growing worthwhile.
Only a few years ago mungbeans were only worth $700 to $800 a tonne.
"While prices have encouraged people to plant mungbeans, it wasn't price stopping them before, it was the moisture," Mr Dalton said.
Solid rainfall of more than 75 millimetres in recent weeks allowed the Hockey brothers at "Springfield", Spring Ridge, to double the size of their mungbean crop.
James and Mick Hockey started planting their 400ha crop on January 3 to take advantage of soaking rain.
"We've sown some into sorghum country and the other half is double cropped back into wheat stubble," James Hockey said.
"The wheat stubble only had about a foot of moisture and the sorghum country had about three quarters of the profile."
With the Hockeys having only grown mungbeans a couple of times in the past decade, it's more of an opportunity crop, when moisture, crop rotation and prices are right.
"The price is so good this year it was hard to not have a go again," Mr Hockey said.
"We sowed a bit heavier this year, about 40 kilogram a hectare.
"It's a difficult crop to grow as far as tonnage so we're just trying to master that."
Pulse Australia senior industry development manager Gordon Cumming said the summer plant, which is more consistent but generally has lower production, could see a drop in prices closer to harvest in March and April.
He encouraged growers to start trading their crops while mungbean prices were still high.
"Often the spring plant can have a higher value because it's going into the market place out of season to the Asian production," Mr Cumming said.
"That shortage means they're keen to buy.
"There could be a slightly lower price for the summer crop if there's an early Asian crop coming into the market."
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