Seeding uncertainty with season break fail

Seeding uncertainty with season break fail


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CROP PROTECTION: Strathalbyn cropper Phillip Eatts was out spraying crops against redlegged earth mites at the weekend. He said the season had been fantastic so far, but more rain was needed soon.

CROP PROTECTION: Strathalbyn cropper Phillip Eatts was out spraying crops against redlegged earth mites at the weekend. He said the season had been fantastic so far, but more rain was needed soon.

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THERE is a possibility that some croppers on the Eyre Peninsula may not start seeding this year due to the dry start to the season.

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THERE is a possibility that some croppers on the Eyre Peninsula may not plant a crop this season due to the lack of opening rains.

Parts of lower, central and western EP did not receive the opening break in late April and there has not been another major rain event since.

The situation has become so concerning that the GRDC is holding two EP forums this week – at Wudinna today (June 15) and Cummins tomorrow (June 16) – to help growers reduce the impact of the dry start.

EP Integrated Commodities grain broker Steve Whillas agreed seeding in the region had been a “real mixed bag”.

“Some larger growers have finished their programs going in dry, others are halfway through, while a small percentage has yet to even start seeding,” he said. 

“The last time we had a late break like this was in 2007, when we were still seeding in the first week of July. But the season still ended up okay.

“If there isn’t any rain by early July, people will consider significantly changing their programs or not sowing at all.”

Mr Whillas said early-sown crops had emerged well, particularly near Arno Bay, Cowell, Kimba, Buckleboo and Penong.

“But all are looking for moisture and may not amount to anything unless rain does come shortly,” he said.

There is not much good news on the horizon though, with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting minimal rainfall in the coming month.

BoM SA senior climatologist Darren Ray said there was a chance of light showers mid to late next week, but only in the southern agricultural districts, and would amount to 10 millimetres at best.

“Further north, they would be lucky to get any at all,” he said.

Mr Ray said the season was shaping up to be similar to 2014.

“The lead-up rainfall is better this year than 2014, but not all regions got the good rain in April,” he said.

Mr Ray said the big highs would probably persist through winter, meaning any cold fronts would stay in the south. “If they do come through the state, they will be weaker and not drop much rainfall,” he said.

Frost events could also continue with the lighter winds and clearer skies, he said.

Looking long-term, Mr Ray forecast below-average rainfall for the rest of June and July, but said August and September could be closer to average for rainfall.

In a less dire area of the state, Strathalbyn cropper Phillip Eatts said the season was travelling nicely, after a solid opening rain in late April, and a further 20mm in late May.

Phillip, with brother Darren, crops about 2000 hectares at Strathalbyn and Wanbi, mainly wheat and peas, alongside 2000 ewes. They finished seeding about a week ago.

“The early-sown crops are at the 3-5-leaf stage, while the later-sown crops are at early emergence,” Phillip said.

But frost was slowing development of their Wanbi crops, while Strathalbyn’s “adequate moisture” was also dissipating.

“Looking at the BoM website though, the weather patterns don’t look great for the rest of winter,” he said.

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