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Opportunity knocks for mungbeans this season

Peter Bach’s mungbeans have had a great season, with extra rain helping boost yield potential and some mungbeans re-podding. “It’s a mix of green and black out here. But the yield will be a lot better,” Peter says.
Photo: Nicole Baxter

Mungbeans have been exceptional this season for south-eastern Queensland growers Peter and Kylie Bach, with an extra burst of rain boosting yields and even causing early sown crops to re-pod.

Peter and Kylie farm 1000 hectares near Pittsworth, west of Toowoomba, and sow mungbeans as an opportunity crop, following winter barley.

This season, mungbeans were sown in two time periods – at Christmas time and again in early January.

The later-sown mungbeans soaked up the additional 60 millimetres of rain, while the earlier-sown crop re-podded. “It’s a mix of green and black out here,” Peter says. “But the yield will be a lot better.”

The mungbeans planted comprise three varieties – Opal-AU , Jade-AU and, for the first time, Green Dragon™ for its yield potential.

Peter decided to plant Opal-AU because of its fusarium tolerance, after noticing the stark difference between it and Jade-AU .

“The last time we grew mungbeans in that paddock, I had half Jade-AU and half Opal-AU . The Opal-AU ones weren’t fantastic but were harvestable, whereas the Jade-AU was a waste of time.”

Peter’s mungbean agronomy is to plant one tonne of seed per 40ha, with 30 to 40 kilograms/ha of Granulock™ Z, a planting fertiliser that supplies phosphorus, sulfur, zinc and nitrogen. Peter does not count on mungbeans fixing soil nitrogen and believes they do much better with nitrogen.

Weed-wise, the aim is to get grasses under control before they take hold.

Sown on barley stubble, mungbeans tend to yield about 1t/ha on average. “It’s an opportunity, though. If we have a chance to plant, we plant.”

Sorghum, sown twice in a three-year rotation with barley, is the business’s strongest economic performer, with 5t/ha yields on average.

“We double-crop all the time. People can outdo our sorghum yields, but they fallow, and we don’t. I believe the most efficient rain you’ll ever receive is in-crop rain,” Peter says.

“If you got a crop in and you get 5mm of rain, it actually might help you. On a bare paddock, it doesn’t do that much.”

Peter says rainfall can be inconsistent but tends to average 660mm annually. Like many in the northern region, the farm has had some above-average falls in the past few years.

“In 2022, we had over a metre (1000mm) of rain. And last year, half a metre (500mm).”

Peter says the property was able to handle all the water because of controlled-traffic farming practices, and because it had previously been so dry.

When the mungbeans are ready to harvest, he will use a contractor for both timeliness and financial reasons.

“It means we don’t put the hours on our machine, and we can keep it on sorghum. This is important because you also can’t have sorghum in your machine when you harvest mungbeans. It has got to be spotless because you can’t grade sorghum out.”

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