Researchers have given farmers and the wider industry a sneak peek of upcoming mungbean varieties promising to lift the crop's disease resistance to new levels.
The annual Australian Mungbean Association Hermitage Field Walk, held at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Hermitage Research Facility at Warwick, drew 82 participants to hear from researchers and investors on topics including crop protection, crop management, soil health and marketing.
Participants were given a tour of demonstration plots of current mungbean varieties as well some of the breeding lines that are still in development through the National Mungbean Improvement Program, which is a co-investment of DAF and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
DAF senior plant breeder Col Douglas said while new varieties would not be ready for release for almost two years, they were already seeing good results for increased resistance against diseases such as halo blight and tan spot.
"Bacterial diseases in affecting our mungbean crops are often seed-borne and very difficult to manage," he said.
"It means genetic resistance is really the cornerstone of mungbean research and securing a reliable future for the industry.
"Yield is king so we're always try to develop high yielding varieties that produce large sized grains but to combine this better disease resistance to protect that yield. We also have an exciting project with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research to implement new breeding technologies and crop physiology; work that is beyond the scope of what we in Australia could achieve alone."
Mr Douglas said there was a good atmosphere at the field walk and plenty of optimism despite the challenges to the grains industry caused by dry conditions over recent years.
"It's a really collegiate atmosphere within the industry, there really is a 'mungbean family' that has been responsible for the growth of this industry," he said.
"Mungbeans have moved from being an opportunity crop to an important part of people's farming rotation.
"For two seasons now we have seen positive intention to plant what would have been over 100,000 hectares of mungbeans each year, though that has obviously been affected by seasonal conditions."
With mungbeans grown from Central Queensland down to NSW's Liverpool Plains, Mr Douglas said they were also increasing in popularity in the Burdekin among cane farmers.
"Mungbean is probably the crop with the shortest duration so it makes it a very good economic and risk management option. It also has potential to fit for the sugarcane industry, which has very specific growing windows.
And with international demand for mungbeans on the rise, Mr Douglas said Australia was well placed to meet the market.
"Global demand, rising prices, superior varieties and best management practice are putting Australian growers in the front seat," he said.
"Probably 95 per cent or more of what we produce is exported to Asia and Europe.
"More and more competing countries in South America and Africa are starting to produce mungbeans for export but they are still behind us in terms of coordinated research. And of course we like to think that we are ahead of the game when it comes to breeding."