Lentils, faba beans, field peas Pulsing upward

The rapid growth of Australia's lentil industry is expected to continue with forecast production of about 120,000 tonnes in the year 2000.

According to the Pulse Development Officer with Pulse Australia, Kris Pangiotopolous, this will be about 25 per cent more than in 1999, with farmers being encouraged into the industry by higher prices relative to other crops and the release of improved varieties.

Victoria is the dominant lentil-producing state, accounting for about 70 per cent of the total crop, with the remainder mainly coming from SA. Small areas are being grown in NSW and WA but expansion in these states has been hindered by the dominance of acid soils in large areas of their grainbelts.

"Realistic but conservative" budget prices for lentils this year were in the $350-$400/t delivered range which was about $100/t less than in 1999.

Faba beans on the up and up, too

Mr Pangiotopolous said faba beans are also forecasted to see increased production this year. He said the differential between the human and animal feed markets is about $100/t.

Downgrading through seed discolouration is mainly caused by diseases such as Ascochyta and chocolate spot—both of which can be controlled by fungicides, he noted. "Faba beans could bring $240/t delivered, although the Fiesta variety will command a premium of up to $40/t because of superior seed size and colour."

White peas get a look in

Mr Pangiotopolous said with the release of three new white pea varieties, Mukta, Santi and Snowpeak, an industry was starting to develop.

Growers should make sure that dun peas, the dominant field pea type in Australia, were not mixed with white peas as this would create buyer resistance to both duns and the whites.

The budget prices for duns in the year 2000 was $195-$215/t delivered while white peas were expected to realise $200-$210/t delivered.

Contact: Mr Kris Pangiotopolous 03 5444 5937