TWO years ago, upper Yorke Peninsula farmer Merv Read made the switch from peas to lentils to chase the premium prices. He has not looked back since.
With the advice of his agronomist, Joe Batten, Merv went with the Boomer variety of green lentils which thrive in local conditions and fetch a higher price.
Merv planted 120 hectares of lentils on land previously used to grow peas. He decided to make the switch as lentils have a good gross margin and premium price.
While peas were getting him $200 a tonne, lentils were up to $1000/t.
Merv runs a 1650ha property with wife Carolyn, four young children and father-in-law Grant Rundle.
This season, he also cropped 810ha of wheat, 690ha of barley and a small amount of lupins.
In the lead-up to Christmas, Merv was halfway through harvest and things were looking good despite heavy storms wreaking havoc across South Australia.
"We didn't expect to get any malt barley but we have come through with a malt one grade," he said.
"We are having a good season and all our crops are as good as they can be."
Merv managed to get the lentil crop off before the heavy rains in early December battered crops across the State. The crop yielded 2.9t/ha.
"The quality of the lentils is very good. We still need to clean them up before selling," he said.
The Boomer lentil variety was chosen over other mainstay green lentil varieties such as Matilda because of its improved resistance to botrytis grey mould and ascochyta blight, its higher yields and possibility of a price premium.
Merv has been growing them only for a couple of years but the lentils seem to suit local conditions and are growing well, yielding about 2.5t/ha.
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