THE area sown to high-risk crops, such as canola, chickpeas and lentils, was decreased in the 2019 sowing season, according to the state government's latest Crop and Pasture Report - Seeding Intentions.
On a more positive note, the report also revealed that farmers planned to maintain the area sown to wheat and increase the area sown to hay - to replenish supplies used or sold in the past year.
The vast majority of SA farmers sowed these crops dry in April, so good rainfall tallies in May and again this week have been most welcome.
But Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said the season's dry forecast and increased frost risk remained a potential challenge.
"Paddock feed across the farming districts is critically low, but the rains have provided an opportunity for germination to establish pastures and cereal crops for early livestock feed," he said.
"Some farmers have reported the May rainfall turned their worst season in memory into the best start in decades, but they are acutely aware there is a long way to go in the season."
The report highlights soil moisture across the state is low due to the dry conditions in the first four months of the year and above-average temperatures.
April rainfall was average on western Eyre Peninsula and below average to very much below average in all other agricultural districts.
There was an area in the Lower North that observed its lowest April rainfall on record.
While in the pastoral region, April rainfall varied from average to very much below average, with an area in the southern North East pastoral zone having its lowest rainfall on record.
Strong winds on several days during April resulted in severe dust storms across many districts and exposing soils.
It made many farmers with bare, sandy soils reluctant to sow dry, worried the soil disturbance would increase the risk of erosion.
An increasing number of Mallee farmers deep-ripped sandy soils before sowing to reduce compaction.
Fortunately, there has been minimal summer weed growth requiring significantly less spraying.
The potential for carryover of herbicide residues due to the dry conditions in 2018 and over summer prompted some farmers to change their crop plans for 2019.
The area sown to canola has been reduced due to low soil moisture and a lower forecast canola price, while many farmers in the lower rainfall districts have reduced the area sown to pulse crops, particularly chickpeas and lentils.
There had been a significant increase in the planned area to be sown to barley, but the lower forecast grain price has tempered this increase.
Farmers in some districts have increased the planned area of hay for their own use, plus for domestic and export markets.
- Details: For more detailed seeding intentions, view the report at pir.sa.gov.au