FARMERS in central Queensland are looking forward to a big payout on the chickpea trifecta this season, with large areas planted, record yields and high prices.
Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said chickpeas had come into their own and were now Queensland's top grain crop.
"Over the last two decades, chickpeas have risen in prominence to become a highly profitable crop with a key position in the local farming systems,” Mr Byrne said.
"Last season, the gross value of our chickpea production soared to a record high of $441 million.
"There is no sign of a slow-down in the popularity of chickpeas either, with farmers or consumers.
"Queensland producers have risen to the challenge of increased demand for chickpeas overseas, driving a 176% rise in export values in the year to September.”
Mr Byrne said the latest estimate was Queensland chickpea exports would be worth $649 million, up from $235 million just a year ago.
"This is the result of sound planning underpinned by important advances in chickpea agronomy and breeding over the last decade,” Mr Byrne said.
"It is the culmination of a lot of work by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, industry and the CQ growers themselves.
"Queensland Government-supported pulse research has led the way in increasing crop yields and resilience in the face of drought, insects and disease.
"This cropping success is a great way to end the year.
"2016 has been the International Year of Pulses and Queensland growers have certainly embraced that.”
DAF principal technical officer Maurice Conway said chickpea growers in central Queensland were already looking ahead.
"Some are planning to invest in deep fertiliser application to combat a rundown in nutrients,” he said.
"The 2016 boom season poses some other challenges as well.
"The wet season provided a foothold for disease and while it remained dry during the critical period this year, the risk going forward is now quite high.
"There's been a build-up of weeds which represent a seedbank for the future, so DAF staff will need to focus on minimising that problem.”
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