Growing lupin in Victoria

There are 2 types of Lupin; the narrow leaf species (Lupinus angustifolius) and the larger seeded and broader leaf (Lupinus albus).

The broader leaf is generally produced for human consumption — whilst the higher protein narrow leaf lupin is better placed as stock feed.

Managing lupin

For healthy high yielding crops it is important to have seed tested for seed borne diseases. If seed is coming from WA or SA it must be tested for Lupin anthracnose — a disease caused by fungal infection (resulting in deformed growth) which only occurs in these 2 states of Australia.

Even though many of the newer varieties of lupin have better disease resistance, it is still a good idea to have seed tested for cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and Anthracnose.

If a paddock has a history of lupin disease it may be best to rest or sow a different crop, allowing the disease to die back. One crop in four is a good policy to follow. With good quality seed and favourable conditions, lupin is a productive rotational crop option.

Mice infestations can be a big issue for farmers, with both the sowing and flowering stages targeted as a food source.

Lupin roots can grow down to 2.5 metres, the rhizobium is required for nodulation and nitrogen fixation. Once nodulation occurs in acid soils, inoculation will not be required for the next 5 years.

CMV and anthracnose are tested as the amount of pathogen DNA in a standard sample size. Testing can be facilitated by commercial grain testing businesses.

Sampling seed is best done soon after harvest by taking samples as the seed streams from the header to the holding bin or when it is transferred to the silo. A small bucket or bag can be passed through the stream at several different times during transfer, then mixed together and sub-sampled to the laboratories required weight.

Sowing

Lupins don't tolerate free lime (up to 4%) and will grow poorly on hard setting or shallow (less than 25cm) soils. The narrow-leaf varieties are suited to acid (as low as pH 4) sandy to sand over clay soils and well structured loam soils. One crop in four is a good policy to follow."

Direct drilling seed is a best practice, with hard setting heavier soils sown shallower and looser sandy soils deeper, optimum sowing depths are between 10cm and 30cm. Lupins push their cotyledons out of the ground unlike other legumes, which is why soils that crust and deep sowing are problematic.

When sowing lupin crops try to achieve between 45 to 60 plants per metreor 75 to 100kg a hectare. It is important to remember that albus is a larger seed and therefore will need to be sown at a higher rate (160kg a hectare). The narrow leaf variety is well suited to acid sandy soils with the angustoflius preferring the wider range from sandy to well-structured loams.

Seeding rate (kg per ha) = Plant density (plants/m2) × 100 seed weight (g) × 10 divided by Germination percentage

Climate

Lupins prefer moderate temperatures and rainfall, they are not tolerant of frost and large losses of flowers can occur if frost is severe enough or ongoing. They like moderate temperatures, too many days over 30 degrees will also see flowers drop.

Fertilisers

Manganese, phosphorous and nitrogen (and minor elements zinc and sulphur) will help crops to reach their potential. As all soils vary, it is important to conduct pre-sowing soil tests to work out application rates. Manganese deficiencies can result in split seed disorder, this can be prevented by applying manganese to the soil (direct drill with seed) or via foliar spray when pods on the main stem are 2 to 3cm long and the secondary stems have nearly finished flowering.

Pests

Redlegged earth mite (Halotydeus destructor) is a black-bodied mite with red legs; it damages seedlings as they emerge.

Lucerne flea (Sminthurus viridis) is a small (2.5mm), wingless, light green hopping insect. It chews through leaves in layers resulting in 'window-pane' like holes.

Native budworm (Helicoverpa punctigera) damages maturing seed in pods during the flowering and podding stage of plant growth.

Diseases

Brown leaf spot (Pleiochaeta setosa) has small web like spots on leaves and pods. Infected leaves drop off, lesions may girdle stems

Pleiochaeta root rot (Pleiochaeta setosa) is a browning and rotting of tap and lateral roots, seeding plant death.

Cucumber mosaic virus causes bunching and stunted growth — they have few pods and remain green while other plants are browning off.

Harvest

Harvesting should occur when moisture levels are 14 per cent and the crop is mature (pods brown, seed yellow). If putting stock onto the stubble it is recommended to do so shortly after harvest (to avoid stem rot and fungus from rains).

Harvest is where high pod loss can occur, so speak to your agronomist about header settings for your particular variety (open front or conventional headers can be used).

Further information

See the Victorian winter crop summary for a guide to lupin varieties and last season's yield results.

Page last updated: 09 Jan 2023