Crops are coping well despite the late start

Crops are coping well despite the late start


Cropping News
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Frank and his wife Carlia have put in 4250 hectares of canola, oats, barley and wheat this year and with the crop up and out of the ground, this latest rain will certainly help it to keep ticking along in the short term.

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Hyden farmer Frank Nield inspects a crop of Spartacus barley with his sons Alastair (left) and Darcy. An 11 millimetre rain event over the weekend will help keep this crop ticking along, but Frank said he was hoping for a 30-40mm rain event soon to replenish soil moisture.

Hyden farmer Frank Nield inspects a crop of Spartacus barley with his sons Alastair (left) and Darcy. An 11 millimetre rain event over the weekend will help keep this crop ticking along, but Frank said he was hoping for a 30-40mm rain event soon to replenish soil moisture.

GOOD recent rain is helping Hyden farmer Frank Nield's crops, but he is hoping something more substantial comes through in the next couple of weeks.

Frank and his wife Carlia have put in 4250 hectares of canola, oats, barley and wheat this year and with the crop up and out of the ground, this latest rain will certainly help it to keep ticking along in the short term.

"It will certainly do some good and help the crops to kick along a bit," Mr Nield said.

But with no summer rain this year, he said a good couple of inches will be needed soon to really get the ground wet.

The Nield cropping program is made up of 250ha of canola, 900ha of oats, 2100ha of barley and 1000ha of wheat.

"We cut back on our planned canola program just because of the way the season has panned out," Mr Nield said.

"You really need a big chunk of summer rain to grow good canola crops out here and obviously this year we didn't get that.

"Canola can be so fickle and there is not a lot of value in the stubbles and it really wasn't a hard call to drop hectares out of the program this year."

Mr Nield has upped the barley hectares to replace the canola program and said barley was fast becoming the most suited crop to his operation.

"Barley does well in this country and it has delivered in recent years," he said.

"I would grow all barley if I could but we keep wheat in the mix just to spread the risk."

Variety wise, most of the wheat grown this year will be Mace with some Scepter also thrown in, while the barley will be mostly Spartacus with a bit of Mundah.

All the canola is Bonito and the oats is all Bannister.

Mr Nield said this year's seeding program started with oats on April 18 and they still had 250ha to go, which they would complete this week.

He said this season was shaping up to be similar to 2018, which he said delivered average yields.

"We had a bit of rain in March and then in early April we had anywhere from 12-23mm across the farms," he said.

"Then on May 16 we had 10-13mm, so anything that was seeded dry is germinating now on that rain and pushing out one leaf.

"What we have seeded in the past couple of weeks will hopefully come up on last weekend's rain.

"It is similar to 2018 with a later start, we had rain on May 25 last year and then not much in June.

"We had 70mm in July and August which saved the crops and all we needed was a good finish and the crops would have been anything - I think we ended up with 2mm for September so the result was average yields, but we had excellent prices which made up for it."

With 2600 breeding ewes in the mix as well, like many in the eastern Wheatbelt Mr Nield is hoping for some substantial winter rain to fill dams.

"There are a number of dams that have gone dry and we have been piping water across the farm to get through," he said.

"We have managed to clean a few dams out and upgraded catchments so when a good rain does come it won't take much for the water to run."

Frank has been cautious on carrying out any grain marketing as yet, but with a lift in prices recently he will probably market some grain on the back of the rain event.

"We are in this business to make money, so you have to capture the higher prices when they are there," he said.

"At some point you have to make the call, so with this rain I will probably start looking at it."

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