January rain sees some take the punt on late summer crop

January rain sees some take the punt on late summer crop

Cropping
Brendan Taylor, AgForce grains section president, says some farmers are taking the calculated risk to plant summer crop after the planting window has nominally closed as they can use the crop for fodder if it does not look like making it through to grain.

Brendan Taylor, AgForce grains section president, says some farmers are taking the calculated risk to plant summer crop after the planting window has nominally closed as they can use the crop for fodder if it does not look like making it through to grain.

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The planting window for summer crops is closed in southern Queensland but some will take a punt and plant dual purpose grain / fodder crops.

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BY ALMOST any conventional measure the window for summer cropping in southern Queensland and northern NSW is firmly slammed shut by late January.

However, heavy falls of up to 250mm in parts of the Darling Downs has some farmers looking to toy with the idea with dusting off their seeding rigs at a very unusual time of the year.

And AgForce grains section president Brendan Taylor has said there was a theory behind the calculated risk.

"Most years it would simply be a matter of banking this really good moisture for the winter crop and that's what I'll be doing myself, however, the demand for fodder remains off the charts," Mr Taylor, who farms at Warra, near Dalby, said.

"If you were relying solely on grain then it would be very risky, running into the cold weather and frost at harvest time, but given you have the flexibility of cutting it for hay, feeding it to livestock or if things go well taking it through to grain, so there are options."

"There certainly is not going to be a lot of crop going in but people may have a look at it."

Mr Taylor said some would plant grain sorghum, while others would look at shorter season crops such as mung beans and millet.

"Even with the big falls there is not a lot in the way of stored moisture given how dry it was beforehand, but with the high prices of feed grain and fodder they are having a crack at it."

"Even if they only manage to get the sorghum a metre high there is still going to be good value in whatever they make out of it if the rain cuts out."

John Woods, Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) chairman and Goondiwindi farmer said people in his area were also contemplating the unorthodox move.

"The price of fodder means that it is something that people will seriously consider if they've managed to get the heavier falls and with potentially the prospect for some follow-up rain."

Mr Taylor said the medium term forecast looked reasonable.

"We could well see some more rain through February, which will be great not only for those who took a punt on a summer crop but for those of us banking moisture for a winter crop."

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