Gearing up for Anzac Day

24 Apr, 2014 02:00 AM
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In Corrigin, Des Hickey had already witnessed the germination of some of his canola crops thanks to some stormy weather and heavy rains which fell a couple of weeks ago.
The trend towards putting in more wheat over barley has been driven by pricing...
In Corrigin, Des Hickey had already witnessed the germination of some of his canola crops thanks to some stormy weather and heavy rains which fell a couple of weeks ago.

TOMORROW is Anzac Day which marks the traditional start to seeding season 2014/15 right throughout WA.

As of tomorrow, hundreds of tractors with airseeders in tow will take to the paddocks in an attempt to sow early canola before the break of the season.

Despite the lack of rain on the horizon, April 25 is still the day pegged by many to produce optimal crop growing conditions.

And the significant boost of confidence given by last year's good season (for most) meant a number of growers in the Kwinana port zone had even taken the opportunity to get going before that date.

While historically, growers in the Albany Zone were some of the last to take to their tractor seats, it also seemed the record 2013/14 season had given some the confidence to get a bit of a head start this time around as well.

A number of growers, including Scott Winspear at Gnowangerup, took the chance to scratch in some early sheep feed before planning to get stuck into the bulk of their canola and cereal seeding programs within the coming weeks.

In Corrigin, Des Hickey had already witnessed the germination of some of his canola crops thanks to some stormy weather and heavy rains which fell a couple of weeks ago.

But there is still a long way to go before this year's crops would be delivered to CBH sites right throughout the southern half of the State.

Katanning Farmanco agronomist Frank Boetel said the majority of his clients and farmers in his area would wait for Anzac Day to get stuck into their seeding programs.

He said as of tomorrow, they'd jump into the substantially-sized dry-sown canola and lupin rotations despite each program being assessed on an individual basis and risk management profile.

"Most growers who are keen to start their dry seeding programs will probably sow 20 per cent to 30pc of their canola before it rains," Mr Boetel said.

"Especially east of Katanning along the line from Wagin to Tambellup.

"But of course it will all depend on the size of the programs and there isn't a great urgency."

He said the size of individual cereal programs was expected to increase marginally this season thanks to the lack of rain on the horizon and an unwillingness to commit too much canola to the ground before it rained.

"The trend towards putting in more wheat over barley has been driven by pricing and agronomy issues experienced in the last few seasons," Mr Boetel said.

"There has been a slight trend towards more lupins in this area."

He credited the rise to the availability of better varieties and farmers' desire to grow their own sheep feed in an attempt to avoid weed seed and resistance issues on-farm.

In the northern parts of the Kwinana zone, Elders Koorda agronomist Matt Willis said a number of his clients already had canola in the ground and germinated.

Thanks to the same isolated storm activity which took place at Des Hickey's Corrigin farm a few weeks ago, a number of Koorda growers received up to 40mm of rainfall while others received none.

Mr Willis said a number of farmers in the area took the opportunity to sow into moisture and thanks to a further four millimetres of rain which fell on the same paddocks a week later, things were looking very promising so far.

"As long as those paddocks receive some follow-up rain some time in May they should continue to thrive," he said.

"At this stage some people are also putting in some of their oat programs while most will wait for the Anzac Day start and get cracking with some more canola and long-season wheat."

Mr Willis said it was interesting to note the jump in Scope barley plantings in his region this year and credited the Clearfield option's barley grass and brome grass control mechanisms for the hike.

He also said Triazine Tolerant canola varieties continued to be more popular than their Roundup Ready counterparts due to Koorda's placement in a low rainfall zone.

In the Geraldton port zone, Planfarm agronomist Andrew Sandison said very few growers had started seeding thanks to dry soil conditions.

He said most planned to get started after the Easter long weekend and there was no real rush to take to the paddocks just yet.

"A tiny amount of canola and lupins may have gone in around the place but nothing much to speak of," Mr Sandison said.

"Mainly it has been done in an attempt to calibrate machinery before the real start to the seeding period."

He said growers in the northern coastal regions would stick to their year-in-year-out and tried and tested rotations, while those in the eastern parts of the zone would look to drop back (or off altogether) their canola and lupin paddocks due to a lack of serious summer rain.

At Esperance, Landmark agronomist Phil Smyth said just like the rest of them, his growers were waiting for rain.

He said there wasn't much seeding action taking place as of yet and growers would wait for the Easter break to finish before driving full steam ahead with their programs after Anzac Day.

"It's still pretty dry around here," Mr Smyth said.

"A little bit of canola has gone in dry and along the coastal strip some pasture varieties have also been sown."

Mr Smyth said in his patch planned wheat hectares were up on last year and canola had already started to slip thanks to the lack of foreseeable rainfall.

"Much of that canola will be replaced with feed barley varieties or field peas which can be sown late in the seeding program," he said.

"There's still a fair bit of windrow burning going on around here and some last minute preparations before the airseeders take to the paddocks come Anzac Day."

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