By Peter Semmler, Australian Global Brokerage
Since the last report, pulses have been on a real rollercoaster due to the very fickle weather Australia has experienced. The impact on the various states has been very different.
West Australia seems to have fared the best of all the states. Their season got off to a great start with adequate moisture for planting and everything progressed well through to harvest with all indications pointing to another close to record crop. Spring weather was cooler and wetter than normal, but this has not caused any major issues.
The season in South Australia got off to a later start than normal with less rainfall than most farmers would have liked. However, August rainfall was above average, the crops developed very well, and were looking excellent. A number of agronomists we contacted compared the current season to 2016, which was a record. While there were some storms and strong winds late in October, the crops were green enough to minimize damage. Higher than expected rainfall has brought its own problems with many farmers having to apply fungicide to their excellent lentil crops four times to keep foliar diseases under control. The cooler, wetter conditions mean desiccation of pulse crops has been delayed 2–3 weeks and harvest similarly.
Victoria’s season started extremely well and crops progressed with expectations for an excellent harvest. However, the forecast La Niña weather pattern arrived and there has been considerable damage to crops as a result, especially lentils and faba beans. Harvest has been delayed by around 3–4 weeks.
New South Wales has endured a very wet season with extensive damage to planted crops due to flooding. At this time, it is very difficult to accurately predict production of pulses until harvesting has progressed further.
The season in Queensland has also been very wet which has impacted production. The area planted to chickpeas was lower than usual due to exports to India not happening and a large carryover from the previous year.
Lentil exports for the October 2021 to September 2022 shipping year were a record 939,000 tonnes. This was due in part to the lower Canadian crop in 2021. Prior to the excessive rains in Victoria, lentil production forecasts ranged between 1 to 1.2 million tonnes.
It is estimated somewhere between 20–30% of the Victorian lentil crop has turned yellow due to waterlogging. There are also serious concerns for lentil quality as the excessive rain and cool conditions are ideal for diseases like Ascochyta and Sclerotinia to thrive despite extensive spraying. Taking all the above factors into consideration, we are still estimating lentil production at around 800,000 tonnes with the excellent crops in South Australia compensating for the issues in Victoria.
Faba bean exports for the shipping year were also a record coming in at close to 625,000 tonnes. Exports to Egypt for this period were just over 487,000 tonnes, also a record. The faba bean crop in South Australia is looking extremely good with some massive yields expected. In Victoria, the Bendoc variety has been ravaged by chocolate spot and the crops have turned black. While Egypt was the biggest buyer for faba beans this year, there are some concerns about their ability to stay the major importer due to serious shortage of hard currency. Container freights to Egypt remain very high. There were some trades of new crop faba beans in containers reported at around $470 USD cost and freight (CFR) Damietta in late November. Domestically, stockfeed demand for faba beans is expected to support the price.
Pea exports for the year were the second highest on record with China remaining the largest destination once again. While Canadian prices have eased which has forced down the price for Australian peas, it seems that Australian peas are now sought by Chinese buyers. The last reported trade we heard was around $435 USD CFR Tianjin.
Due to the lower planted area and impact of the wet weather, production forecasts are coming in around 500,000–550,000 tonnes.
Peter Semmler is the Principal of Australian Global Brokerage. He can be reached at email@example.com.
December 2022 Australia Pulse Market Update
|Estimated planted area, June 2022 (hectares)
|Dun Field Peas
|Red & Green Lentils
|New South Wales
|Agrisemm Total Area Estimate (hectares), June 2022
|Agrisemm Estimated Production (tonnes), June 2022
|Agrisemm Estimated Production (tonnes), December 2022
|Agrisemm Estimated Production (tonnes), November 2021
|Export Data (tonnes)
|October 2016 to September 2017
|October 2017 to September 2018
|October 2018 to September 2019
|October 2019 to September 2020
|October 2020 to September 2021
|October 2021 to September 2022
Source: Bureau of Statistics, Pulse Australia
Note: At the time of writing neither Pulse Australia (PA) or Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) had published their winter crop forecasts. Reports from both organisations will be published in June. PA team members have provided valuable input for this report.