CONCERNS: Due to price drop caused by India’s tariff on legumes, farmers were re-assessing chickpeas in their crop rotations.

Chickpea price drop disappoints South East farmers

FARMERS in the South East might be re-evaluating their plans to sow chickpeas as a spring crop, following a price decline.

FARMERS in the South East might be re-evaluating their plans to sow chickpeas as a spring crop, following a price decline.

Landmark Naracoorte agronomist Tom Cooper said a number of farmers sowed chickpeas last year for the first time, with the wet year leaving growers looking for a viable spring-sown option.

“While the recent price fall means the crop may not be as attractive as what it was six months ago to some growers, it does still look to be a spring sowing option going forward,” he said.

With harvest wrapping up in the SE, Mr Cooper said most farmers were looking to the season ahead, after variable yields across the region.

He said it was not uncommon for farmers to have had paddocks that performed well alongside others that performed poorly.

“Yield and quality have been all over the place, all crops have performed well, average and poorly,” Mr Cooper said.

“I wouldn’t say there was any particular crop that has performed particularly well or particularly badly – there has just been a large amount of variability with both yield and quality across all crops.

“We had a lot of problems with waterlogging through July to September, along with a significant frost event in early November – these two factors having the biggest impact on grain yield and quality.”

With up to 120 millimetres of rain in some locations during November, a large proportion of grain went into the feed market, with some disappointing test weights and quality reports.

“I would suggest growers were a bit disappointed with the season, but are looking towards the upcoming season, with planning and some discussion how to put themselves in the best position for 2018,” he said.

In the Upper SE, Cox Rural senior agronomist Scott Hutchings said chickpea crops had yielded less than expected, and due to price drop caused by India’s tariff on legumes, farmers were re-assessing the commodity in their rotations.

“It is a bit too early to call, but I would expect a lot of legumes will be passed over in favour of pasture legumes, with the sheep and wool market going like it is,” he said.

“There was quite a bit of interest in this crop a few months ago, but the market seems to have dropped.”

Also in the Upper SE, Mr Hutchings reported that most farmers had finished harvest for another season.

He said canola yields were above average, with yields of 2.5 tonnes a hectare to 3t/ha from legume stubbles, 2-2.5t/ha on cereal stubbles and more than 3t/ha for farmers who had the option to irrigate.

But due to rain in November and December, wheat and barley qualities took a hit, with barley quality dropping as low as Feed 2.

“Hard wheat was difficult to get due to the rain around harvest causing downgrading,” Mr Hutchings said.

“Yields were good from barley, but the quality was down … those farmers who harvested early got some malt, but once it rained they were back to anywhere as low as Feed 2.”

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