Australian Mungbean Association

Australian-grown mungbeans have quality written all over them!

Champion water use efficiency

Irrigated mungbean is the champion summer crop when it come to water use efficiency and then there are the bonuses of all the break crop advantages, low fertiliser costs and a strong market outlook. (Photo: Pulse Australia)


27 October, 2015

By Cindy Benjamin


When it comes to crop water efficiency, it’s hard to go past mungbeans. Being a fast growing crop, a fully irrigated mungbean crop requires just 3.5 to 4.5 ML/ha, less than grain sorghum (5 ML/ha), sunflower (4.5–7.5 ML/ha), soybean (6.0 – 8.0 ML/ha) and maize (8–9 ML/ha).

Rob Ayre, general manager at Associated Grain says that coupling the water use efficiency with low fertiliser costs and solid returns, mungbean is well worth consideration when allocating irrigation blocks this summer.

“In the past mungbeans have often been planted as an opportunity crop to take advantage of rain that comes too late for planting sorghum or cotton,” he says. “This season there are good reasons for growers to allocate some area to mungbean, regardless of when the rain comes.”

“Being ready to planting at the right time and having everything in place ready to grow the best possible crop is likely to be very financially rewarding.”

The average yield potential for a well-managed irrigated crop in the northern region is around 2.0 t/ha. For best results, aim to establish 30–40 plants/m2 and ensure the paddock is well drained. Waterlogging reduces the ability of the rhizobia in the root nodules to fix nitrogen, resulting in induced nitrogen deficiency.

Overhead spray irrigation is optimal as it allows more frequent irrigations. Applying around 50 mm of water per week during flowering and pod fill will produce the highest yields and good quality grain. In flood irrigated paddocks, planting on hills or raised beds has advantages over flat planting.

Depending on rainfall, a pre-wetting irrigation may be required to establish a high biomass crop. The first in-crop irrigation is required about 7 days before flowering begins, usually 30–40 days after planting. The second irrigation should coincide with early pod development. Avoid irrigating too late as this can cause another flush of flowers, resulting in split maturity, delayed harvest and potential downgrading of quality.

Rob says that a mungbean crop can mineralise as much nitrogen as an 18-month fallow but with much higher returns. “Pulse and cereals go so well together, particularly mungbean and barley,” he says. “A rotation that works very well is mungbean sown into barley stubble followed with a September-plant grain sorghum crop and back to barley.”

“Mungbean is a very high value crop with solid demand for export quality grain,” says Rob. “The industry has come a long way in the last 10 years with excellent varieties and established agronomy and crop protection practices to ensure growers have the best chance to produce the high quality grain the international market has come to expect from Australia.”

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