New high for soybeans but 'don't be greedy'

Soybean crops jump in the wake of rain as producers pray for harvest

Cropping
Rick and Geoff Gollan, Woodburn, planted this crop of 791 variety in November, into peat soil usually reserved for rice. These beans could fetch a record price.

Rick and Geoff Gollan, Woodburn, planted this crop of 791 variety in November, into peat soil usually reserved for rice. These beans could fetch a record price.

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Soybeans planted into paddocks normally destined for sugar cane or even dryland rice are turning parts of the Northern Rivers green.

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A lucrative Australian soybean industry is running the risk of shooting its own foot if competing processors drive the price beyond what the end user is willing to pay - leaving an opening for non GM, Indian produced kibble.

Australian soy producers, like Geoff and Rick Gollan, Woodburn, are expecting this season's beans to fetch record high prices of around $850 to $950 a tonne, up by one third from just four years ago. There is some talk that soy could reach $1000/t but is that such a good thing?

"Producers have to be mindful we will lose an industry if we are too greedy," said Ross Larsson, CEO of Mara Global Foods at Mallanganee.

"The end guys can't absorb another ridiculously high price rise. It is not the duty of the end user to pay back two years of drought when there is the option to import from overseas, or to simply produce less product. Once our market for food is gone soybeans end up as stockfeed and then we're looking at half the price."

Last year's supply of Australian non GM soybeans came primarily from Queensland's Burdekin river valley, which supports a winter crop of the legume.

The Gollan brothers have been growing soybeans in rotation with sugar cane for more than 30 years and place the greatest value on their crop as a soil improver and nitrogen fixer.

Early summer was so dry that one year old cane was dying and much of it was harvested and baled as silage. Some ratoons have come back. In other paddocks there are now soybeans and the Gollans are hopeful of capturing an industry high.

In this particular peat soil paddock, usually reserved for dryland rice, there was enough moisture to punt on early soybeans, planted in a hot month that received just two millimetres from the sky.

"We've got more soybeans this year because it was too dry to plant sugar cane," said Geoff Gollan.

"It was just pure coincidence that we ended up with so many paddocks of beans, it wasn't because of the potential for price."

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