Pulses & Legumes
Pulses and legumes are grown ‘in rotation’ with cereals and oilseeds because it’s not good to keep growing the same crop over and over in the same paddock. This helps to keep plant diseases in check and allows different weed control options.
Pulses have the added benefit of not needing nitrogen fertiliser. And if all goes right, they might even provide some left over nitrogen for the next cereal crop.
Pulses are grain legumes that are harvested and used for human consumption. Other legumes for example lab lab, are grown for animal fodder, and the leaf material is eaten in the paddock or made into hay. The majority of pulses are exported to the Asian subcontinent and are consumed as the protein component of their diet.
The main pulse grown during winter is chickpeas. They are planted in June and harvested in November/December. Typically desi type chickpeas, which have a brown seedcoat and yellow seed, are grown at Felton. In 2015, around 1,000t of chickpeas were grown in the area. Desi chickpeas can be dehulled and split to make chana dahl, ground into flour (besan) or exported as whole grain.
Kabuli type chickpeas, which have a larger white seed and are used to make hummus or available as whole dried or canned chickpeas, are rarely grown in the area as the varieties available are not well suited to our conditions.
During summer, mungbeans are an important pulse crop. They are a very quick crop, only taking 90 days from planting to harvest. Many farmers will harvest wheat or barley in November, then if suitable rainfall occurs, plant mungbeans around Christmas time. The harvested product is graded and bagged and shipped to Asia. No further processing of the grain occurs prior to being purchased in the market by the consumer, so it is important for the farmer to produce a clean, bright seed without insect holes! Many growers employ agronomists to check the crop twice weekly. Small quantities of local mungbeans are used to produce sprouts. This season, mungbeans prices are very high, so a larger than typical planting has occurred in the Felton Valley.