It's a wrap

30 May, 2013 02:00 AM
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York-based cropping manager Nick Moss celebrated the end of the 5198 hectare seeding program on Peter Boyle's farm for yet another year last Friday. Together with Peter's sons Guydon and Zanda, Nick put in 650ha of canola, 1500ha of hay, 500ha lupins, 300ha of barley and 2050ha of wheat on both the Boyle's York and Quairading farms.
York-based cropping manager Nick Moss celebrated the end of the 5198 hectare seeding program on Peter Boyle's farm for yet another year last Friday. Together with Peter's sons Guydon and Zanda, Nick put in 650ha of canola, 1500ha of hay, 500ha lupins, 300ha of barley and 2050ha of wheat on both the Boyle's York and Quairading farms.

SEEDING is all but over in the northern Wheatbelt.

According to Planfarm Geraldton agronomist Peter Eliott-Lockhart between 90 and 95 per cent of broadacre growers in the Geraldton port zone have finished programs, with a few chickpea growers finishing off this week.

"Conditions throughout the zone are generally wet but soil surfaces are a bit dry," Mr Eliott-Lockhart said.

"Anybody who is still seeding is kicking up dust but everything is going into moisture."

He also said some of the zone's non-wetting sands were still bone dry.

"Northern growers would love some rain on top of the seed they've just sown but we'll keep our fingers crossed and see what happens," Mr Eliott-Lockhart said.

"Overall, germination has been a bit slow.

"I thought a lot of the crops would be coming out of the ground at five to six days," he said. "But they seem to be breaking ground closer to seven or eight days."

He credited the warm days and string of exceptionally cold nights for the problem.

"That has been the situation all the way down to the Three Springs region," Mr Eliott-Lockhart said.

In the Kwinana port zone, Farmanco Dowerin agronomist David Ward also said there were still tractors in local paddocks.

Most growers in his region were still ticking along and probably had two to three weeks of seeding to go.

"Some are still waiting for another drop of rain on their heavier country," Mr Ward said.

"Even when the scattered showers came through a couple of weeks ago some growers south of town got five millimetres, others to the north of town only got 2mm."

At Merredin, Landmark agronomist Dani Whyte's clients were still in the throes of every seeding stage imaginable.

Some of her clients started to finish up to two weeks ago, while others finished last week.

"Some will also finish this week, some will finish next week and a number of others didn't get the chance to put a crop in at all out at Southern Cross," Ms Whyte said.

"I've seen three leaf cereals on the western side of Merredin thanks to some good rain but overall it has been a very mixed bag."

Ms Whyte said while there were some terrific looking canola crops around, most of her clients would give anything for an inch of rain.

She said the Merredin region had only received patchy falls in the last few months.

"We had a thunderstorm about four weeks ago which provided a one kilometre strip of land with about 50mm of rain," Ms Whyte said.

"Then there are growers north of town but east of Westonia, in the north Bodallin/Bullfinch area, who haven't had much at all."

Ms Whyte said paddocks closer to Merredin had fantastic levels of soil moisture but some crops had fallen victim to small numbers of locusts, especially those south of Southern Cross.

At York, Landmark agronomist Karrie Stratford said the majority of her clients were still seeding but she hoped they'd be finished by today.

She said the reliable rains had ensured an early start for most York growers and crops which were out of the ground were looking okay at this stage.

"It'll certainly be a very early finish for York growers given it's only the end of May," Ms Stratford said.

"We haven't had the summer rain that areas further east have had, but growers around here have at least had enough to get going."

Corrigin grower and former independent agronomist Simon Wallwork finished his own seeding program last week.

He also said most growers in his region had finished seeding for the season, or were at least getting close.

Mr Wallwork said soil moisture levels in the area were good and it had been one of the better starts to a season he had seen in the last few years.

"We haven't seen huge amounts of rain but it's still early," he said.

"We've had about 14mm in the last seven or eight days which has been enough to keep things ticking along.

"Early rains ensured growers in this area had a good knockdown and a nice early start for canola too."

He also said attractive canola prices meant most growers were crossing their fingers for weighty canola harvests come summer.

In the Albany port zone, Farmanco Katanning agronomist Frank Boetel's clients were stretching out the planting of their wheat programs to avoid the frost window.

Mr Boetel said the paddock moisture profile throughout his local area was also great.

"It's the best I've seen it for 13 years or so," he said. "Weed control throughout has also been excellent."

He said despite Tambellup growers not having received as much rain as those farming closer to Katanning, things in that area also looked promising.

Rain fell in the region two weeks ago setting growers at Katanning, Nyabing, Pingrup, Gnowangerup, Broomehill and Tambellup in good stead for the season ahead.

"Jerramungup and Ongerup also got 20mm-30mm in the same time frame so that helped to top some paddocks up with moisture," Mr Boetel said.

"Growers farming east of Katanning probably got a bit more than most."

But not as much as the South Coastal region at Wellstead or Gairdner, or the coastal parts of the Esperance port zone, according to Landmark Esperance agronomist Daniel Bell.

He said growers in the Esperance region finished seeding some time ago and there was only a handful of Condingup growers with a few paddocks of cereals to go.

He said most growers were well and truly into hefty spraying programs to control their weeds.

"Nearly two weeks ago we got a really good rain over two days" Mr Bell said.

"Most growers got between 25mm and 120mm right across the district."

He also said a large number of growers would soon start re-seeding cereals into paddocks which had suffered major water-logging.

"Canola crops are well and truly up and away but there are plenty of bugs and mice around, which is more so than usual," Mr Bell said.

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