Croppers rejoice with good rain totals

Autumn break arrives to SA


Cropping
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THE area of the nation's winter cropping belt that has received a decent autumn break continues to grow.

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SOWING AHEAD: Jim Franks, Mallala, said he was out in "ideal conditions for seeding", after receiving 54mm of rain in the past fortnight.

SOWING AHEAD: Jim Franks, Mallala, said he was out in "ideal conditions for seeding", after receiving 54mm of rain in the past fortnight.

THE area of the nation's winter cropping belt that has received a decent autumn break continues to grow, after good rain across SA, Vic and southern NSW last week.

The falls consolidated rain the previous week, allowing farmers in areas such as the Upper South East of SA and the western Wimmera in Vic to get a crop established.

Kangaroo Island has received some of the state's largest totals in May so far, including 137.7 millimetres at Flinders Chase and 118.6mm at Turkey Lane, via Parndana.

Parndana cropper Michael Mills was out spraying this week, after about 110mm of rain since May 1.

He said it was "by far" the best break to the season they have had for a few years.

"In the past couple of years, we have had patchy germinations at the start of the season and pre-emergents haven't worked well with the lack of moisture," he said. "This year we will be able to get a really good weed kill, which is important for us in a higher rainfall zone."

Mr Mills started seeding canola on May 8 and started sowing wheat this week.

"We hadn't had significant rain here since mid-December, so there is a lot more positivity about," he said.

Positivity was also creeping in on eastern Eyre Peninsula, which this time last year was experiencing near-record dry conditions.

Cleve Rural Traders agronomist Sarah Traeger said growers have had a much-improved start to the season.

"Around the Cleve district, there has been 15-20mm, and people are keen for another rain, but the crop is beginning to emerge," she said.

We hadn't had significant rain here since mid-December, so there is a lot more positivity about. - MICHAEL MILLS, KI

"Closer to Cowell and the coast, the rain has been heavier. They have been lucky to get about 30mm, which is a really good start.

"Last year, light showers through July and August, combined with the high prices, was enough to get people out of jail. This year, there is a bit more confidence given we've had a break at a reasonable time of year."

Ms Traeger said farmers were trending towards cereal-heavy rotations, but were still happy enough to sow break crops where required.

"Lower risk cereals are popular, but the rain is early enough that canola and pulses can still be sown without yield penalty.

"The trick will be getting further rain from here on in."

In the eight-day Bureau of Meteorology forecast, there is useful rain of up to 15mm forecast in parts of SA, with lighter falls expected across western Vic.

SOWING AHEAD: Jim Franks, Mallala, said he was out in "ideal conditions for seeding", after receiving 54mm of rain in the past fortnight.

SOWING AHEAD: Jim Franks, Mallala, said he was out in "ideal conditions for seeding", after receiving 54mm of rain in the past fortnight.

Season starts with confidence

THE rain in the past fortnight has ensured a "perfect start" for Mallala cropper Jim Franks, who has had 54 millimetres for the month of May.

He could not recall the last good start in early May.

"The past two seasons have had awful starts because of staggered germinations," he said. "It has been so dry for so long, and for things to change in the space of a fortnight, it's just amazing.

"We can now sow with confidence."

Mr Franks is a third of the way through his 900-hectare cropping program of wheat, barley and lentils, which he started on May 4.

The property had not received a significant rain since August.

"I am sowing Clearfield Grenade wheat for the first time, because of last year's dry conditions," he said.

"The chemicals we used on lentils didn't dissipate so we have had to grow an imi-resistant wheat.

"We got caught with chemical damage last year so we don't want that again."

Mr Franks still expects an early weed issue because of the lack of summer rain.

"There wasn't a need for a knock-down on early-sown crops because we didn't have a germination," he said.

"For those that dry sow, there will be a lot of weeds that come up in-crop now."

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, for the month (until May 14), some of the state's bigger rain totals were recorded at Coulta with 102.7mm, Coffin Bay 93.3mm, Cummins 72.6mm, Georgetown 65.2mm, Warooka 64.5mm, Wirrabara Forest 64.2mm and Mount Compass 114mm.

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