Hope emerging for upcoming winter crop

Hope emerging for upcoming winter crop

Cropping
Farmers are hopeful that stored summer moisture, combined with a good early break, will get the winter crop away to a good start this year.

Farmers are hopeful that stored summer moisture, combined with a good early break, will get the winter crop away to a good start this year.

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The January rain through the northern cropping belt may have been too late for a summer plant but it will boost subsoil moisture profiles.

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WELCOME rain through the northern cropping zone in January has raised the prospects of improved winter cropping planting this year.

The rain, combined with southern croppers eager to consolidate on last harvest's solid results with an increase in their plant it is likely to mean sowing nationally increases, given a normal opening break in the autumn.

Recent rain, which has seen parts of the Darling Downs in Queensland receive more than 250mm for January, is largely too late for a summer crop so farmers will instead look to conserve the moisture for a winter crop.

Further south, in southern Queensland and northern NSW, tallies have generally been more modest, with 50-100mm in many parts, but again dependent on storm activity.

This moisture also is likely to be used as a bank to assist the upcoming winter crop rather than for a summer crop.

AgForce grains section president Brendan Taylor, who farms near Dalby, said it had been a welcome change in weather pattern.

"Not everyone has got the rain but it is nice to see at least some places getting it, some have had more in a fortnight than all last year.

"At this stage there are three camps, those who have had really good rainfall, those that have got some handy rain, between 50-100mm and unfortunately those that have missed out, there are still plenty of parts of the Downs that have only had 5-10mm all up."

John Woods, Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) chairman and farmer at Goondiwindi, said there had been some useful rain in the area of late.

"It's far from drought breaking but it is very handy and if we can keep picking up solid rain in reasonable falls of 25mm or so in a hit as we have been doing it will really start to prime up our subsoil moisture bank.

"After the last couple of years it is nice to see that it can rain."

In the south, Rural Bank western Victoria regional manager Greg Kuchel said confidence was strong.

"Across much of Victoria from the southern Mallee and south through the Wimmera and Western District people were very pleased with the results last year and will look to follow up again next year.

"There won't be massive changes to the crop rotation in terms of what is being planted as the prices for the lower risk cereals are so good at present but they won't be afraid to spend some money on inputs if the conditions are favourable to maximise yield."

"It is a different story further north where there were poor yields and they will be much more selective with their crop rotations and their input spend will be very prudent, they will be looking to make the most of what they can."

In terms of soil moisture he said there had been patchy thunderstorms but no generalised heavy falls.

"There has been a little bit of rain but apart from if you really got under a heavy storm it is not like last year where large parts of the Mallee had good falls that ultimately got their crops over the line at harvest."

Mr Kuchel's colleagues put out a report that said Australia's crop production would drop 27pc for the 2019-20 harvest on the back of the poor year in northern Australia and parts of Western Australia.

Mr Kuchel said the dynamic in terms of grain marketing was different to 2018-19, which had the Australian domestic market relying on grain from Western Australia.

This year he said Victoria and parts of South Australia had more grain to meet that domestic demand.

Further out he said grain prices may come off their highs if prospects of a better season firm up but he said given the extent of the drought they would not return to normal in just a single season even with good production.

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