TENACIOUS chickpea crops throughout parched NSW and southern Queensland are showing the pulse crop’s Middle Eastern heritage by hanging tough through the dry.
However, crop analysts are warning that while chickpea crops are still green in many places, there is a very narrow window left in terms of getting rain to allow the crops to set seed.
“The chickpeas are still in the hunt in central and southern NSW, they are very tough in the dry,” said Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) northern panel chairman and Bland district farmer John Minogue.
“Having said that, there is a very narrow window, the frost and heat have knocked the flowers off plants.
“They can reflower and pod up again, but it will require a rain to do so and there is not much in the immediate forecast period.
“With the season coming to a close they would really need a rain quickly to come to much.”
Ron Storey, Pulse Australia chairman, agreed.
“We’ve really only got another three weeks until the harvest gets into gear in southern Queensland.”
“There are crops that have some hope if we get another rain, but by and large I think much of north-western NSW and southern Queensland will struggle.”
Mr Storey said balancing this out was a larger national plant and reasonable yields from early harvesting areas in central Queensland.
“The chickpea production zone has moved out of those traditional areas in northern NSW and southern Queensland, there have been a lot more planted in other regions this year,” Mr Storey said.
There are anecdotal reports of crops pushing the 2.4 tonnes to the hectare mark in central Queensland, near Emerald, although this is believed to be one of the higher dryland yields in the region.
“This spread will mean there are still chickpeas about, although the crop will obviously be a lot smaller than last year.”
Buyers of chickpeas remain nervous about the availability of supplies given the seasonal conditions.
Prices have spiked from around $750-800 a tonne midway through August to over $1000/t now for desi types, with Australian conditions the major factor weighing on the market.