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Great start to growing season

John Heard and Lockie Wilson needed gumboots as they looked at a canola crop sown by the Sudholz family, Noradjuha, last Friday following 13mm of rain overnight. Photo by Gregor Heard.
Nanjing Night Net

Wimmera and Mallee farmers are enjoying the best start to their growing season that they have had in many years.

Paul Oxbrow, Rupanyup,said his canola, cereal and pulse crops were all out of the ground and looking “really good”.

He said the week before last, they had three frosts in a row but because they were followed by sunny weather, they had little impact on the crops’ growth.

Mr Oxbrow said in the “traditional June and July” wintry weather, they were receiving 10 millimetres of rain regularly and the black, self-mulching clay soil on his farm seemed to be handling the water well.

He said they’d been able to get the equipment on the tracks in the paddocks, as part of theircontrolled traffic farming (CTF) system, to spread urea over the cereals (including wheat, barley and oats) and canola, to ensure the crops got the nutrients needed to take advantage of the good water provisions.

“There’s a lot of positivity around –it’s a good start,” he said.

“But September/October will make or break us.”

He said reports of La Niña developing which increased the likelihood of good spring rains was boosting optimism, but farmers were still making conservative forecasts.

Ross Johns said they’d had a “reasonably good crop establishment” on themixed farming operation at Warracknabeal and Marnoo.

He said the majority of the paddocks sown to wheat, barley, field peas and beans were up and well established, and across the district it was better than average.

He said as with many in the district, he’d finished sowing by about May 20. He said the crops that were dry sown or continued once rains had started, were sown in “quite ideal conditions”.

“While the start is important what is really important is finishing rains to ensure grain fill,” Mr Johnssaid.

He said Wimmera and Mallee farmers were optimistic thanks to “wonderful rains” and the forecastLa Niña-induced rains, but at the end of the day, the spring rains would determine yields.

He said the cool weather had probably slowed growth a little and a few frosts had had limited impact.

Mr Johns said he would like to have more rainfall and the security of stored moisture before he applies fertiliser.

Jade Clark, Agritech Rural’s Dimboola branch manager, said getting rainfalls of 10mm-plus throughout the past six weeks had lifted weight off many farmers’ shoulders.

“Although we haven’t had a good soaking rain. Weneed a 25mm fall to get moisture down into the sub-soil.”

He said a lot of urea nitrogen had been applied in the past week and a half.

“Blokes were a bit hesitant and didn’t want to outlay early, but the good thing about nitrogen is it works well being spread n established crops and when it is as cheap as it’s been in the past 20 years, it’s a fairly easy decision to make.”

Mr Clark said there’s also been some spraying of grasses out of early legume crops and last week, broad-leaf weeds out of cereal crops.

John Heard and Lockie Wilson needed the winter footwear as they looked around a canola crop sown by the Sudholz family at Noradjuha last Friday following rainfall of 13mm the night before.

Despite the mercury read just 4 degrees, there was ankle deep mud and the wind could have cut glass.However, for farmers attending last Friday’s Noradjuha Crop Walk in the southern Wimmera, it was just as enjoyable as lazing on a beach in North Queensland.

Following a run of two drought seasons and a dry autumn there was some trepidation leading into the 2016 plant despite the promising long term forecast.

Since May, however, there has been good rain, with another 12.5-20mm falling across areas to the south-west of Horsham last week and crops are currently in the best condition for several years.

Although the rainfall in the south-west Wimmera is slightly less than in other parts of the region and significantly down on tallies in areas east of Bendigo, farmers in the district, which has a 450mm average annual rainfall and heavy soils and can be prone to waterlogging over winter in wet seasons are not complaining.

Organiser of the event Lockie Wilson said the day had been designed to observe several trials early in the growing season.

The group looked at efficacy of pre-emergent selective herbicides such as Boxer Gold, compared barley varieties and optimum sowing rates for the district.

He said the rain had meant a slight change in the day’s agenda as some of the dirt roads were wet, but added it was a problem the group was happy to have.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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