A brief spell of rain this week has been welcomed by Lower Eyre Peninsula farmers after what has been an otherwise drier-than-average season.
Carr’s Seeds agronomist Denis Pedler said it had been a drier-than-average summer/autumn period, resulting in this year’s seeding program being a mixed bag.
“Apart from the summer rainfall event in early February, the area has seen very little moisture,” he said.
“The dry conditions, combined with herbicides for summer weed control, have reduced chances of a green bridge.”
Mr Pedler said with prices lower for their normal cereal crops, some farmers have taken the opportunity to grow more canola and pulses, such as lentils and beans, this season.
He said some farmers started sowing – mainly cereal crops – in late April into dry soil conditions, while others have chosen to wait and monitor the weather forecast to make more informed decisions as they approach the start of their sowing programs.
Mr Pedler said those that had sown early were considering the amount of pre-emergent herbicide that had been applied to very dry soil, and the amount of breakdown that occurs before a moisture event.
While there has been baiting for mice in some paddocks, it has not been as big a problem as in other areas such as the Yorke Peninsula.
“Because of the amount of canola grown in the area, snails are an annual problem, and both March and April have been busy months for baiting,” Mr Pedler said.
“Along with the smoke from burning of stubble paddocks and dust from sowing operations, it is clear to see how busy the month of May has been for most farmers.
“The crystal balls are on back order, but with this kind of start, all eyes will be on the spring weather pattern to finish the crops off with favourable conditions.”
Randall Wilksch farms 3650 hectares on the Lower Eyre Peninsula with wife Julie, parents Max and Julie, brother Jordy and his wife Kylie, plus two full-time employees.
The business – Wilksch Agriculture – is spread across a number of properties at areas including Yeelanna and Karkoo.
They grow wheat, canola, barley, lentils, faba beans and lupins for both international and domestic markets.
More than two-thirds of their seeding program has gone in dry.
Mr Wilksch said some Lower EP croppers had done some seeding, some had done little, and others had not started.
The Yeelanna property received 2.5 millimetres of rain on Monday night.
“It’s been the driest in a long time,” Mr Wilksch said.
The family has sown canola, lentils and wheat at Yeelanna.
Faba beans are yet to be sown as the family finished sowing lentils on Monday night.
Mr Wilksch has no feeling about how the weather will be this season.
He said there had been some challenges with the dry season, including higher diesel fuel consumption.
Conditions were also dusty for spraying.