Southern crop to shoulder the load

Southern crop to shoulder the load

Cropping News

UPDATED: Southern Australia is picking up some of the slack from what is likely to be another poor season in Queensland and northern NSW.

Michael Sudholz, who farms at Natimuk, west of Horsham, in a recently sown and sprayed paddock of Spartacus barley.

Michael Sudholz, who farms at Natimuk, west of Horsham, in a recently sown and sprayed paddock of Spartacus barley.

There is strong yield potential for croppers in south-eastern Australia following well above average May and June rainfall, but further north it is a totally different story, with Queensland and northern NSW set for a third successive drought-hit crop.

In the south, the season has turned around markedly after a very dry start to the year, with most of Victoria, South Australia and southern NSW recording above average May and June rainfall.

Grain Growers chairman Brett Hosking said most of Victoria was looking reasonable.

"There are parts up in the far north-west that would really like another rain, but by and large there is a bit of confidence building, especially for the guys that have got good stored moisture after the heavy December rain last year," Mr Hosking said.

In South Australia, Grain Producers South Australia chairman Wade Dabinett said much of the state was going well after a general rainfall in June.

"It was a pretty slow start and while some parts got good May rainfall some didn't, but the June rainfall was fairly general," Mr Dabinett said.

"There are still dry parts in the Mallee, the Riverland and the northern Eyre Peninsula but otherwise things are looking reasonable for this time of year.

"Compared to last year when the break did not come until about this time or even later, we're certainly, as a whole, in a better position."

In contrast, Andrew Jurgs, trading manager for Goondiwindi-based Carpendale Commodities, said confidence was low in southern Queensland and northern NSW.

"It is around 30 per cent planted and most of that is more in hope of winter rainfall rather than a solid bank of moisture.

"At this stage it is not looking good for the winter crop, we have until the start of August to plant in some areas, but there is not much sign of good rainfall in the medium-term forecasts."

He said Central Queensland was the exception to the gloomy outlook, with winter plantings in the area going along well.

"It looks quite good there but it is not a big enough area to grow enough grain to meet local demand."

There is further confidence sapping news out of the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) long-range forecast is for a drier and hotter winter than average in many parts of Australia's cropping belt.

Faba beans emerging near Natimuk.

Faba beans emerging near Natimuk.

The BOM this week said while the threat of an El Nino even had faded in recent weeks, the odds of an Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) positive event were firming.

An IOD positive event is correlated with drier than average conditions.

But southern farmers, at present, are happy with conditions.

Following one of the driest starts to the year on record, the season has transformed for the better for Natimuk farmer Michael Sudholz.

Mr Sudholz, who farms in Victoria's western Wimmera, said there was little rain following falls at harvest time in December right through to May.

Ducks enjoying fresh green feed in a fodder crop near Natimuk.

Ducks enjoying fresh green feed in a fodder crop near Natimuk.

However, the season has turned around, with solid May rainfall and a good band of rain delivering nearly 40mm in the second week of June.

Mr Sudholz has now completed sowing and said things were looking good.

After a dry fortnight since the major rainband, forecast falls of 10-20mm this weekend would be perfect for emerging crops.

Mr Sudholz said in spite of the BOM forecast there was confidence in the Wimmera region, due to the solid opening rain.

"If we'd had one of the lighter breaks, like we've been having in recent years, you probably wouldn't be too confident, as it had been so dry for so long," he said.

"We saw that, following even good rain in May there wasn't as much growth as you'd think, but now with the last rain we are pretty comfortable for a little while."

The story Southern crop to shoulder the load first appeared on Farm Online.



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