THE strong demand for human consumption pulses and the good season is set to see the national lentil crop smash the previous record by 74 per cent.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences has flagged total production this year at 450,000 tonnes.
A Horsham agronomist believes the Wimmera could be in for one of its biggest years ever for pulses.
Agriculture Victoria pulse agronomist Jason Brand said lentils had been harvested in the Mallee and growers were generally happy.
“There have been some positive stories,” he said.
“There have been good yields in the lentils and guys are suggesting the returns could be in the top end of what they have ever seen.
“Lentils have been going 2.5 tonnes to three tonnes a hectare.”
Mr Brand said peas were a mixed bag so far, depending on the region.
He said Agriculture Victoria had harvested its Ouyen trial site and all yields for pulses went above two tonnes a hectare.
“It’s fantastic for that area,” he said.
“Chickpeas have gone about two tonnes a hectare in trials and are pulling $1200 a tonne.
“Overall for lentils, we would be close to some of the largest total production ever.
“Certainly in the Mallee is has to be one of the biggest years.”
Pulse Australia chairman Ron Storey said current pulse values represented exceptional opportunities for growers. “This is a golden opportunity for people with chickpeas this year to get some very good gross margins with good prices and good yields,” he said.
Mr Storey said however, growers should not to expect these current values to become a new norm.
“Will these sort of values be on offer once the new Indian crop, boosted by the first good monsoon rains in three years, comes on line in March?” he said.
“The answer is most likely to be no.”
From an industry perspective, Mr Storey said the tremendous volatility in pulse markets this season would put the strain on the trade, particularly those who had offered grower-friendly hectare based contracts at high values.
“This has the potential to be a testing year for marketers and the trade has to manage extra risk, with growers as the counterparty,” he said.
Dodgshun Medlin consultant Matt Witney said there were reports of lentil yields of two to 2.5 tonnes a hectare through the Mallee.
He said the yields were at the top of the district’s expectations.
He said growers were also pleased with prices.
“Mallee farmers are making some very good margins from their lentil crops this year,” he said.