Making the right wet weather decisions

Making the right wet weather decisions


Cropping News
Crops have lost yield to waterlogging in parts of Victoria this season.

Crops have lost yield to waterlogging in parts of Victoria this season.

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Not all farmers are dealing with drought this year. In a patch of Victoria croppers are losing paddocks to waterlogging.

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MOST eastern Australian farmers are gazing anxiously at the skies and hoping for grey rain clouds to roll in.

It is a different story in parts of Victoria's Western District, where some weather stations have recorded the wettest May-August 20 period on record.

Crops on low lying ground have been severely impacted by waterlogging with many likely to be abandoned and resown, generally with a spring barley or fodder crop.

Agronomist Craig Drum works in the Tatyoon / Streatham district where it has been exceptionally wet and said the wet winter had been a mixed blessing.

He said in the worst impacted areas there could be 20pc of crops abandoned, however, equally, he said paddocks with better drainage still had crops with good yield potential.

"It is very soil type dependent, but the paddocks that do get wet are really struggling."

In particular he said canola was doing it tough.

"You see some really good crops where the plants have stayed ahead of the moisture and they have fantastic yield potential, up to 3.5 tonnes a hectare, but on the other hand there are the ones that haven't got going and they will be lucky to do 0.5t-1t/ha.

"The canola either looks really good or really bad there is not much in between."

He said barley was also struggling, with plenty of paddocks turning yellow, while wheat was coping with the wet the best.

Farmers are currently making the tough decisions of whether to risk resowing paddocks or to attempt to recoup something from struggling crops as they are.

Mr Drum said an information sessions was being held this afternoon (Thursday) at Derrinallum to discuss managing waterlogged crops.

"There are a lot of different scenarios out there, some areas, which received 70mm on May 1, have been wet all the way through and the crop never really emerged or really struggled so it is an easy enough decision to resow there, but there are paddocks where the decision is not so clear cut."

"Planting a spring crop does have its risks, the plant is going to be flowering later, so there is more risk of heat shock and you are also relying on late season rain, so you have to weigh up the scenario carefully.

"Even with the full soil moisture profile on our soil types you still need some in-crop rainfall to get a good yield."

He said a paddock assessment could help farmers make their decisions.

"As a rule of thumb we are talking about whether there are 100 plants per square metre of cereals and 10 healthy canola plants per square metre.

"Anything less than that and you would probably look at resowing."

In terms of crop types he said farmers were looking at options such as 90-day barley varieties, linseed or a fodder crop, which may include a forage brassica mixed with species such as plantain or chicory.

The story Making the right wet weather decisions first appeared on Farm Online.

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