Mungbean management guide
Mungbean is a valuable summer crop as it is relatively drought-tolerant, quick-maturing and requires minimal fertiliser input.
Mungbeans or green gram (Vigna radiata) are a short-season indeterminate small-seeded tropical pulse crop originating from the northeast India/Burma region of Asia. They are closely related to black gram (Vigna mungo) and adzuki (Vigna angularis). Mungbeans are a high protein human food crop. Seed appearance and quality are of paramount importance. Nearly all (95%) of the Australian mungbean crop is bagged, containerised and exported. All stages of crop production and processing have to comply with strict hygiene practices to ensure the crop meets the highest standards for food safety and hygiene.
The Australian mungbean industry maintains the highest standards of hygienic practices including the traceability of product from the farm gate to the final client. Quality assurance processes in Australia include:
Many of the countries that compete with Australia in the international mungbean market use traditional farming methods and hand-harvest their mungbeans. Although labour-intensive, hand-harvesting results in a grain product with exceptional seed quality. In order to compete in the same markets the Australian industry has sought to develop varieties and management practices that enable our growers to produce high quality mungbeans under mechanised production systems.
The quality of mungbean seed is important as processors need unmixed varieties with a high germination percentage. Although sprouting beans attract higher prices, processing beans are more popular as the quality standards are not quite as strict. Insect damage is one of the main reasons for downgrading.
Incorporating mungbean in the crop rotation
Mungbean fit well in a broadacre farming enterprise based on winter cereals or summer crops. They help break disease cycles, particularly cereal root and crown rots, and leave the soil in a ‘soft’ condition.
Mungbeans are a very quick crop, taking 70 to 80 days from planting to maturity. This rapid maturity combined with the fact that mungbeans commonly only utilise the top 60 to 80 cm of soil moisture, means mungbeans are one of the most water efficient summer crops available.
Being a legume, mungbeans have a lower fertiliser requirement than other summer crop choices, with the added benefit of fixing nitrogen into the soil that is then available to the following crop. The end result is healthier soils and greater productivity from the following cereal crop.
Mungbeans are a great summer crop alternative to increase crop diversity and to manage agronomic, environmental and marketing risk. Being such a quick crop they often slot in between other summer crops allowing for better utilisation of farm labour and machinery.
There are two preferred planting windows for mungbeans – spring crop planted in Sept/Oct or summer crop planted in Dec/Jan. The most consistent results with spring plantings have been achieved with late September/early October plantings. Late October/November plantings are considered a riskier proposition because of the increased risk of experiencing dry, heat wave conditions on the emerging seedlings and when plants are flowering. Spring planted mungbeans can produce reasonable yields provided that attention is paid to:
Late December and most of January is the ideal time for summer mungbeans and there are a range of situations to which they would be ideally suited including:
There are a number of important considerations when planning a mungbean crop. Briefly these are:
One of the most important considerations is to discuss the marketing opportunities and varieties with one or more of the mungbean processors and marketers.
Many of the countries that compete with Australia in the international mungbean market use traditional farming methods and hand-harvest their mungbeans. Although labour-intensive, hand-harvesting results in a grain product with exceptional seed quality. Australian mungbeans are sold against hand-harvested product; so to compete effectively, the Australian industry has developed varieties and management practices that enable the production of high-quality mungbeans under mechanised production systems.
Marketing of your mungbeans and choice of variety go hand-in-hand as the first steps in integrating mungbeans into your farming system.
Mungbean varieties should be clearly separated at planting. Varietal mixtures are unacceptable in the market. Unless harvest equipment and storage facilities can be thoroughly cleaned, restrict planting to one variety.
The importance of achieving an even strike and even maturity cannot be over-emphasised. Taking extra care at planting can produce more uniform flowering, making insect management and harvesting more straightforward.
Plan an appropriate herbicide strategy within the preceding crop that will avoid the threat of residue problems in mungbeans.
Nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and zinc levels are important for mungbean production. Long fallow disorder is common in mungbean crops sown into long-fallowed (12+ months) paddocks.
Broadleaf weed control options are very limited in mungbeans, and growers should plan a weed strategy with their agronomist prior to planting.
Mungbean seed lots containing weed seeds can be difficult to sell, and can incur substantial discounts. Contamination of the sample with either grain sorghum seed or thornapple is of particular concern, as they are extremely difficult to remove by grading. These two weeds should be removed from the crop either with herbicides, or by hand roguing.
The main diseases of mungbean are powdery mildew, tan spot, halo blight, charcoal rot, gummy pod, puffy pod disorder, legume little leaf phytoplasma and tobacco streak virus (TSV).
Insect pests can significantly reduce the profitability of mungbean, through reduced yield and seed quality. Accordingly, insect damage is one of the main reasons for downgrading mungbeans.
Crops should be inspected at least weekly during the vegetative stages and twice weekly from budding onwards (depending on pest pressure). While early damage is less likely, high pest pressure in seedling/early vegetative crops can severely reduce yield potential.
The main insect pests of mungbean are helicoverpa, mirids, green vegetable bug, redbanded shield bug, large and small brown bean bugs, bean podporer and thrips.
Mungbeans are highly efficient users of water and usually do not respond to irrigation during podding. They are sensitive to excessive waterlogging and the importance of good layout and drainage cannot be over-emphasised.
Waterlogging events lasting more than five days can cause root nodules to die back, often causing nitrogen deficiency problems in the crop.
Mungbeans have an indeterminate flowering habit. This means that they do not have a defined flowering period and will continue to flower while there is adequate soil moisture. Consequently, they can have flowers, green pods and black pods present on the plant at the same time. This growth habit can make the harvesting decision difficult.
The ideal stage for harvest to maximise yield and quality is when the majority of pods are physiologically mature and 90% of the pods have turned yellow through to black. At this stage the crop should be considered ready for desiccation and harvest.
Harvest and desiccation factsheet
The mungbean marketing system is unique, particularly in comparison with those used for other pulse and grain crops. To be successful growers need to understand the mungbean consumers’ fundamental requirements, including:
If the Australian mungbean crop were to be accumulated as one bulk commodity, the whole crop would be downgraded to the lowest quality, resulting in lower returns for the majority of mungbean growers.
Growers should consult their local Australian Mungbean Association member for the latest prices and marketing information.
Grower commodity declarations are required by packing sheds to maintain high levels of hygiene and food safety within the Australian mungbean industry. The information provided on the forms is the basis of an industry-wide quality assurance scheme that is a significant advantage in marketing the Australian mungbean crop to overseas and domestic buyers.
The AMA is the peak industry body representing mungbean growers and marketers in Australia.
Accredited mungbean agronomists
DAF, Pulse Australia and the Australian Mungbean Association offer a series of training courses for agronomists. This training is necessary as mungbean management requires specialist technical knowledge and practical skills. This course provides agronomists with the most current research information and best management practices required to assist growers to achieve more reliable and profitable mungbean production.
The program consists of a 2-stage accreditation process:
Once these 2 stages are complete and the participant is deemed to meet industry best management practice the participant becomes an ‘accredited mungbean agronomist’.
If you are considering growing mungbeans it is strongly suggested that you employ the services of an accredited mungbean agronomist to ensure that you are receiving the highest possible standard of service, and maximise your profitability.
Find an accredited agronomist in your district.
The gross margins presented below do not represent current costs or pricing. They have been calculated on indicative prices and retail costs in the past and are provided as a guide only to assist in the preparation of individual on-farm budgets. Actual gross margins are likely to vary considerably from those presented below.
On this page...
Approved mungbean seed for planting.
Desiccated mungbean ready for harvest.
Dried mungbean products.
Mungbean sprouts and pastry products.