Season optimism grows

Optimism surrounds SA season as crops begin to emerge

Grain
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Croppers across the state are rejoicing after one of the best season starts in recent memory.

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Ngapala farmer Patrick Neal (pictured with three-year-old son Tom) started seeding in mid-April and said 60 millimetres of opening rains had meant early-sown sheep feed and canola was "up and away".

Ngapala farmer Patrick Neal (pictured with three-year-old son Tom) started seeding in mid-April and said 60 millimetres of opening rains had meant early-sown sheep feed and canola was "up and away".

CROPPERS across the state are in awe at how the season is starting out, with some receiving above-average opening rains and relatively smooth seeding conditions.

After being one of the hardest drought-hit regions in the state last year, the northern Mallee is having one of its "best ever" seasons, with Loxton recording 60 millimetres of rain in April - double the long-term average.

Rural Directions consultant Richard Saunders, Loxton, said in his time as a consultant - nearly 30 years - he had never seen this much rain in April and "never on that Anzac Day mark".

"We did have a good start once in the early 1990s, but that was March rainfall that got us off to a flyer," he said.

"We have recorded 106mm so far this year, whereas we only had 22mm by this time last year and only 120mm for the season."

Mr Saunders knew of croppers at Wanbi that already had 200mm for the year, while the southern Mallee was also "ticking over nicely".

"We have seen a few mice around Pinnaroo, but they're being kept on top of," he said.

Mr Saunders said most programs were past the halfway mark, with a few early starters already finished.

"Many were putting vetch in from late March, while legumes were going in from mid-April. Now cereals are going in," he said.

"Crop rotations haven't changed much because of the weather, but there could be a slight change to barley hectares because of the China barley tariff threat."

YP Ag agronomist Chris Davey, Kadina, had also been in discussions with growers about changing out of barley on later-sown paddocks.

"For some it might not be that easy, as agronomically it might not stack up," he said.

He said most growers were also at the halfway mark, with the wet Easter/Anzac Day period delaying seeding for up to 10 days.

"Most of the peninsula got 50-70mm," he said.

"Oaten hay, canola, beans were already in the ground by mid-April, so they're at the one to two-leaf stage, but early post-emergent spraying is still 1-2 weeks away."

This year has been one of the biggest ryegrass germinations we have ever seen so it will be a good opportunity to double-knock those paddocks and drive that seedbank down. - CHRIS DAVEY

Mr Davey said 2016 was the last good season start.

"Ever since then we have been sowing dry and compromising on the weed knockdown," he said.

"But this year has been one of the biggest ryegrass germinations we have ever seen so it will be a good opportunity to double-knock those paddocks and drive that seedbank down."

Mr Davey said 2016 was also the last time he saw slime mould in stubbles - something also found this year.

"I am hoping it is an indication of another good season to come," he said.

In the Upper South East, Cox Rural agronomist Seamus McMurray, Keith, said they were also having "one of the best starts we have had for a while", with another 20mm falling at the weekend.

"Thankfully it freshened everything back up after quite a windy week," he said.

"Keith has now had 50mm or more for the month."

Mr McMurray said most canola and beans were in, with some already starting to emerge, while croppers were about to move onto knockdowns and sowing cereals.

Carrs' Seeds agronomist Denis Pedler said the Lower Eyre Peninsula has had more than 100mm to-date - one of the "most comprehensive" starts in a decade.

"Sowing is well under way - some growers near Cummins would be finished and canola, in particular, has emerged very well," he said.

Near Kimba, Nutrien Ag Solutions' Kym Villis said about 90 per cent of growers had finished sowing, with the remainder to finish this weekend.

"The bulk of the district received the Anzac Day weekend rain, but it was follow-up rains that really gave the crops a boost," he said.

"Some parts, such as Lock, missed out on initial rains, but have since caught up in the past few weeks."

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