PATCHY spring and early summer rainfall combined with stretches of scorching temperatures have made for a variable outlook for the 2019 sorghum crop.
Good October and December rain has put most of the Darling Downs on a solid footing. Most of the sorghum crop was planted on the good October falls but some parts of the central and southern Downs didn’t get crops planted until mid-December.
After one of the smallest winter crops in many year’s, Downs farmers are generally happy with how the summer crop season has turned out. Dalby, Jandowae, Macalister, Warra, Condamine and Miles enjoyed the best of the rains and farmers are expecting some good yields.
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Scorching December temperatures have also been in an issue this season. Average December temperatures were three to fi ve degrees above normal. It’s unlikely to be an issue for crops that were sitting on adequate more but drier areas, particularly in northern NSW have suffered.
Harvest is expected to commence in mid to late January as western Downs farmers get into crops that were seeded in September on patchy storm rains. A general start to harvest isn’t expected until late January or early February.
Early planted crops received much needed boost with the general 75 millimetres to 125mm of rain in December. Conditions had dried out following a mostly dry November with farmers saying the rain arrived before crops suffered any yield penalties.
The remaining 20 per cent of the Downs sorghum crop was planted on the December rain.
Time is running out for many Central Queensland farmers to plant sorghum. Some areas around Clermont have had enough rain to plant on but farmers around Emerald and Springsure are still too dry. Clermont recorded 80mm to 90mm in December but most of the Central Highlands only recorded 15mm to 20mm.
CQ farmers typically like to have sorghum crops planted by early February at the latest.
Some farmers are already turning their attention to mung beans as the sorghum planting window starts to close.
The outlook for the NSW sorghum crop is variable, with many areas still suffering from ongoing dry weather. Many farmers in the Moree and Narrabri areas have opted not to plant sorghum because of the lack of soil moisture needed to assure a crop.
October rains of 60mm to 80mm triggered a patchy sorghum planting in some parts but many farmers still said this wasn’t enough with the parched soils.
The situation is slightly better in the eastern Liverpool Plains, but the overall crop is expected to fall well short of the early season forecasts of more than half a million tonnes.
Grain delivery figures from the 2018 winter crop harvest have highlighted the full extent of last year’s drought.
GrainCorp received little over 100,000 tonnes of grain into its Queensland grain storages during winter crop harvest, down from more than half a million tonnes in the previous season. NSW faired a little better with a little over 600,000 tonnes of grain delivered up until late December, according to GrainCorp delivery reports.
This is about a third of the size of the 2017 grain deliveries, which was also hit by drought in the northern areas of the state.
Victoria was easily GrainCorp’s largest grain delivery state for the 2018 harvest where that have taken 1.1 million tonnes of grain as at late December.