26 Jul, 2001 07:12 AM

Grain growers who may have received rainfall during the last week after a prolonged dry spell may be tempted to resow a crop that has failed.

But the Department of Agriculture has warned that re-seeding is a last resort option and that growers should think carefully before putting the air seeder or combine in the paddock.

Senior adviser Peter Metcalfe said past experience had shown that profits from re-seeding were rare, but there were always exceptions to the rule.

The three key points to consider in making the decision to resow are the number of plants that are surviving in a square metre, the cost of replanting and the yield expectations for the resown crop.

"If growers decide to go ahead and resow a paddock they really need to determine whether it is going to cover the costs, such as fuel, seed and time," he said.

"That's assuming they have already decided not to use fertiliser and weeds are under control."

But Mr Metcalfe urged growers to make sure that their existing crop could not be revived, before they decided to resow.

"Cereal crops are incredibly hardy," he said. "A plant might look dead but dissect off all the leaves and look at the growing point to see if there is the slightest bit of green that will indicate that the plant will regrow if it rains.

"Also, scratch away the furrow lines, as the seed may have germinated but is waiting for more moisture to send the shoot up, there may also be possible signs of life in the small shoots."

Another way to determine crop establishment is to count the number of plants within a square metre across a series of random sites over the paddock to assess plant populations.

Growers who are looking at resowing should also consider the weather outlook, yield, prices and other risks to the crop.

Mr Metcalfe warned that even it a resown crop did yield well, the short season could impact on grain quality and profits.

"The resown crop will have a greater chance of producing small and shrivelled grain with higher screenings due to its late planting time," he said.

"Resowing is obviously a really risky decision to make and growers need to carefully consider whether their time and effort may be better spent on other jobs or renegotiating with their bank manager."


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