CHICKPEA harvest has begun in Central Queensland.
Cowal Agriculture operate over eight properties in the Emerald region, and planted 1200 hectares of irrigated chickpeas this season, with Kyabra, Pistol, and the new variety Seamer in the ground.
Harvesting Seamer at Nyang, 220ha, Emerald, on Tuesday morning, Cowal’s general manager Chris Brummell said he gave the new variety a go to see how it stacked up.
He said while last year’s chickpea crop was what “dreams are made of”, this year saw a long, dry, season.
“It has been dry and very warm through most of winter, then towards the end there was a bit of a cold spell that came through, and we’ve had very minimal rainfall,” Mr Brummell said.
“In total we’ve had about 20mm of in-crop rainfall.”
Despite this, the crop only had one in-crop irrigation just prior to flowering.
The crop was planted at about 70kg of seed per hectare into moisture on May 12 after pre-watering began 12 days earlier.
”We were a little bit nervous around our timing of that one irrigation, but it has worked out quite well for us,” Mr Brummell said.
“We’ve got a great result now with a dry harvest and minimal compaction from the headers.”
He said after last year’s yields of about three bales to the hectare, he was expecting a more average yield for this year’s crop.
“I’d like to put a figure on it now but I probably can’t - I think it will be average for the area given the year,” he said. “Last year it was fantastic, it was the stuff dreams are made of.
“I don’t think we’ll ever see it again – there wasn’t much difference from irrigated to dryland because it was all rain-grown. It was just a fantastic year.”
Insect pressure was down on last year and Mr Brummell thanked their in-house agronomist Greg Kauter for his efforts throughout the season.
A late frost did cause some concern in the region.
“We were probably a bit nervous after such a warm winter about it holding the flowers and it has been so dry and warm, and then that cold snap at the end of the season where we were worried about the frosts risk to the fields that are on the river,” he said.
“We haven’t seen any frost damage so we were very fortunate, but I know there is some stories around that frost did touch a bit of the chickies in the area.”
Cowal’s main crop is cotton, and they planted this year on the first day of the window on August 1. Mr Brummell said that crop survived the early cold weather, and is thriving under the long, hot days now.