New varieties coupled with increasing industry support and better management has led to substantial growth Australian mungbean production.
Over the past 10 years, mungbean yields have risen from 30,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes. These figures are encouraging for the industry, which has set a goal to increase Australian production to average 170,000 tonnes by 2019.
Key to that goal in terms of yield potential and disease resistance is the development of new varieties.
“The more germplasm, genes and genetic tools we have at our disposal, the more able we are to deliver the outcomes needed to help the industry go from strength to strength,” explains Col Douglas, plant breeder at Queensland DAF and leader of the National Mungbean Improvement Program, based at Queensland DAF’s Hermitage Research Facility in Warwick.
NMIP is focussed on improving resistance to the major foliar diseases halo blight, tan spot, and powdery mildew.
“We have imported over 400 lines from AVRDC. This is our library, our resource, our working material. With additional QLD Government investment in mungbean research through the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), we have been able to apply genomics and new breeding tools to get more value from germplasm, and to apply this knowledge directly in our GRDC breeding program.”
By taking the lead from larger crops such as wheat, a greater understanding of adaptation and of resistance to biotic and abiotic traits is how future yield gains in mungbean can be achieved.
NMIP’s most recent variety, Celera II-AU (released May 2014) is the first variety bred specifically for halo blight resistance, and although a small-seeded type for niche export markets, Mr Douglas says it illustrates the value of working with genetically-diverse and even unadapted germplasm.
“Similarly the program has a new line identified as a potential replacement for the ageing black gram variety Regur that could be available as early as 2017,” he says. “In addition to better disease resistance than green mungbean, this line has shown increased tolerance to waterlogging and outstanding performance under drought.”
Better varieties lead to more planting
Mungbeans are seen by some producers as just an ‘opportunity’ crop, but farming systems previously dominated by rotations based on sorghum/cotton/sunflowers and wheat/durum have increased returns on capital and optimised profitability by adding mungbeans to their cropping mix.
“Adopting the new varieties of mungbean such as Crystal and Jade-AU has been instrumental to this increased profitability,” says Mr Douglas.
Mungbean plantings like this, he says, have increased in recent years because of increased confidence in better varieties and support information from a pro-active industry.
“With the current investment and work towards developing new and exciting varieties, the future has never been as bright for growers wanting to make the switch to mungbeans,” Mr Douglas says.
Col Douglas discusses what new varieties mean for growers.
Mr Col Douglas
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Hermitage Research Station, Warwick, Qld
(07) 4660 3613
GRDC Project Code