Frost event makes canola growing tough

By Rodney Woods

While most of the canola grown in northern Victoria is being cut for hay, one Dookie farmer is keeping the majority of his crop for what it was originally sown for.

Although he has cut 250ha for chop silage, Steve Ludeman said 800ha would see it out to harvest.

‘‘The biggest difficulty was the frost event we had a couple of months ago,’’ he said.

‘‘A dry season you expect to have and can deal with it, when it comes, but the frost event was the curve ball and made it a bit more difficult.’’

Mr Ludeman compared this dry season to the 1982 season and added that his canola was not as badly affected as his cereal crops.

‘‘(The dry conditions) had a little bit to do with it (cutting for silage),’’ he said.

‘‘Canola is not as bad as our cereal crops. It was more a mixture of dry and frost.

‘‘We realised we’d make more out of it turning it into silage than take it through to harvest. We picked our worst crops and cut them.’’

Despite the dry conditions, Mr Ludeman said the quality of his canola was ‘‘okay’’.

‘‘I don’t think it will be too bad,’’ he said.

‘‘We rubbed out a couple of samples and the oil content was okay. We won’t take any penalties on oil and the test weight was good.

‘‘With it being the better of what we had, the quality will be okay.’’

But any substantial rain could change all that.

‘‘It would be a detriment if it came now,’’ Mr Ludeman said.

‘‘If we only got 5 to 10mm it’s not a problem but we wouldn’t want to have 20 to 30mm at this stage.’’

IK Caldwell agronomist Paul Lavel said areas such as Dookie where higher rainfall had been recorded were likely to be better off but generally all areas of northern Victoria and the southern Riverina were cutting early for hay.