Cropping season growing success

By Jamie Salter

A good start to the autumn cropping season has led to a positive outlook from farmers, who are now hoping for average rainfall throughout winter.

Shepparton Advanced Ag senior agronomist Tony Kelly said after heavy rainfall in April, farmers would prefer less rain during the next six weeks, to allow crops to dry out slightly.

“Canola looks pretty good in terms of prices and we planted a lot of that. People are a bit worried about barley — but farmers are looking at markets pretty closely, and some reduced the amount of barley and put more wheat in.”

Mr Kelly said farmers needed to be aware that rainfall and warm conditions could lead to crop disease.

“There’s a lot of disease around, a new stripe rust pathogen in wheat and aerial blackleg in canola, so we have to be proactive with spraying fungicides on them to protect them,” he said.

Tungamah cropping farmer Daryl Stacey said the season was shaping up nicely, but yield potential could be affected in the future by disease, pests, and frost — right until harvest time.

“We don’t want flooding rain or anything and we already have 300 mm of rain recorded for the year — that with an average spring will probably get good results,” he said.

“We’ve had perfect conditions to spread urea and have done deep end tests for nitrogen for the crops, so they should be looking pretty healthy for a solid yield.”

Elmore cropping farmer Ged McCormick sowed canola, wheat, barley and lupins over about 1200 ha.

“If we get average winter rainfall and a good spring, it should all be good, you’d like to harvest oats for hay in mid-October, and canola in mid-November,” Mr McCormick said.

“The earlier you start the worse it is, if the moisture runs out you have to harvest.”

Mr McCormick said he hoped barley prices remained reasonable but if the relationship with Australia and China deteriorated, all industries would suffer.

Pine Lodge cropping farmer David Cook sowed kittyhawk wheat in April across about 130 ha and said he was going to harvest in early December.

“Luckily, we didn’t have too much rain through May and June, we’re on country that can get wet pretty easily — some of the models are forecasting above-average rain, which wouldn’t be ideal,” Mr Cook said.

“We've got the potential for good yields, but with COVID-19 export markets are up in the air to some degree, so hopefully domestic demand stays strong.”