PLANTING season is upon us, and seeders are rolling out to get the winter crop into the ground.
It's still early days but conditions are mostly positive to follow up from a record area planted in 2021.
Generally sowing plans are made well in advance of actual planting, but roughly 10 per cent of planted area is considered swing and can change based on local conditions.
Growers have had some hard decisions to make this season when considering what to plant.
Southern Queensland and northern New South Wales are off to a flyer with soil moisture profiles full following heavy rainfall in March.
Southern New South Wales and most of Victoria received enough rainfall in March to provide enough moisture to plant, but more will be required to give crops a good start and some may opt to wait for more before committing.
Most of South Australia is yet to receive a significant break, though there are reports of dry seeding occurring.
Western Australia had a very dry summer, but March rainfall has boosted soil moisture enough to encourage planting.
High cost of inputs
Fertiliser, fuel and equipment will influence planting decisions.
While grain and oilseed prices remain high, elevated fuel costs and record fertiliser prices have significantly increased the cost of production and cut margins.
Growers will be faced with a few options:
Marginal regions may see more paddocks left to fallow or switched to grazing crops in mixed operations.
Canola prices are offering more margin than cereals, so area planted is expected to be maximised, though canola does require more inputs than wheat or barley.
Pulses will also be favoured where possible for their nitrogen restoring capabilities.
Outside of fixed rotations, wheat is expected to be preferred to barley given stronger export demand and high prices.
High prices will encourage winter crop planting this season, particularly in those areas with favourable conditions.
However, the expectation is that overall area planted to winter crop will be down on last year.
There is still plenty of time for plans to change, and improved conditions in Western Australia have already seen less of a reduction in planted area than what would have been estimated last month.
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