EP croppers cautiously optimistic about season

EP croppers cautiously optimistic about season


After two tough years of late starts, the Morrows feel their fortunes have changed.


After two tough years when the start to the season did not come until as late as July, Rhett and Blue Morrow feel their fortunes have changed a bit on their 4654-hectare cropping and sheep holdings between Cleve and Darke Peak.

"Finally, we've had a bit of a start this year," Rhett said.

"It's all good here at the moment, which is a bit of a change from the last couple of years.

"To get all our crop in, and most of it is already up, means we're in a good spot for a change. We haven't had massive rain but its enough to get the show rolling really.

"Now the crop's out of the ground it doesn't really need a lot until September. Even if we can get normal rain from now on it will be magic.''

Rhett said while the rain falling across the district had been mostly patchy showers, missing some districts, most of the area was looking OK.

The Morrows have sown 500ha of barley, 2000ha of wheat and 80ha of vetch and oats for hay.

"The hay cut has been critical in the last few years," Rhett said.

"For us to be able to grow it ourselves is pretty key given the prices.

"If we get a good hay cut and we can fill a couple of sheds, it gives us two or three years of hay supply."

We haven't had massive rain but its enough to get the show rolling really. - RHETT MORROW

Landmark Cleve agronomist Martin Lovegrove backs up the Morrows, adding that the district surounding Cleve and across the Eastern Eyre Peninsula has had the best start to the season of the past three years.

"It feels wintery - which is good, because it's been a couple of years since we've had that kind of weather," Mr Lovegrove said.

"With Eastern Eyre Peninsula, it is hard to generalise but most of it is really good.

"The early-sown crops are well established and are off to a great start but there still remains some drier areas towards the coast which have had a pretty dry 12-month period.

"Most of the early-sown stuff is bouncing along OK and is at the three to four week stage.

"Canola is well established and pulse crops also are well established."

Mr Lovegrove said the biggest concern sits with the coastal areas, much of which have missed out on opening rains.

It feels wintery - which is good, because it's been a couple of years since we've had that kind of weather. - MARTIN LOVEGROVE

"The coastal area has missed out again and is probably struggling to get enough moisture to germinate crops, but we'll see," he said.

"The mood is pretty good overall."

Further south near Cummins, Landmark Cummins' Richard May said seeding was 80 per cent or further along in the district.

"We've been pretty fortunate with the amount of rainfall we've received and things are looking pretty promising at the moment," Mr May said.

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Mr May says despite having great faith in the Lower EP districts, he is not expecting a repeat of last year's bumper season - which was in stark contrast to much of the rest of the EP.

"Those sort of seasons like last year - they're certainly not an expectation. If some rain falls you're pretty fortunate really," he said.

"Around the place, though, it is pretty positive and they're looking forward to the season at this point.

"It's a long season - there's a long way to go between now and harvest.''

It was by-and-large business as usual for the growers in the Cummins region, with no perceived challenges at this stage.

"Something that is being dealt with is that there were some dry-sown crops and without any summer rainfall there was no chance to get any knockdown in those paddocks, so there's some pretty dirty crops," Mr May said.

"On the flip side, it's worked out pretty well that we've been able to get some good knockdowns on the balance and certainly working double knockdowns and getting good knockdowns on our ryegrass - so it's been good.''

Ramsey Bros group sales manager Tim Glover said recent rain had certainly lifted optimism and it had probably put some stability into an otherwise uncertain season.

It's a long season - there's a long way to go between now and harvest. - RICHARD MAY

"It's the driest start to a year in history but recent rainfalls have certainly lifted spirits and created a bit of cautious optimism," he said.

"There's still some areas that are really struggling with the volume of rain, parts of Cleve have missed out on the rain but then there's other areas on the Eyre Peninsula like Cowell and Streaky Bay that have really struggled in recent years that have had substantial falls."

Long range weather forecasts for Eastern Eyre Peninsula show a low chance of rainfall later next week, increasing to a medium chance of rainfall into the month.

On Lower Eyre Peninsula, the forecast is for a low chance of rainfall across much of next week and building to medium chance of rain into the following week and the opportunity for rain, including high chances, across the remainder of the month.

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