Well-timed falls revive crops across SA

Well-timed falls revive crops across SA


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Most parts of the state received much-needed rain in the past week, but it was northern and southern Mallee croppers in particular who breathed a sigh of relief after crops that were on a "knife edge" were revived.

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Most parts of the state received much-needed rain in the past week, but it was northern and southern Mallee croppers in particular who breathed a sigh of relief after crops that were on a "knife edge" were revived.

The "fragile soils" had a boost in soil moisture, according to Rural Directions agronomist Richard Saunders, Loxton, with Waikerie and Loxton recording up to 25 millimetres of rain, while Lameroo and Pinnaroo received up to 40mm.

"It was one of those 'perfect' rains," he said.

But Mr Saunders said north of Loxton at Yamba and Murtho again missed out on much-needed rain.

"Last season the region did not crack 50mm until August and at this stage growers are still on level pegging with that this year, which is a worry," he said.

Mr Saunders said the recent rain still had "sensational timing" and was vital to provide growers hope for the season ahead.

Alawoona cropper Lachie Singh said stressed crops were revived overnight after he received 27mm in the past week.

"If rain did not arrive I would have been very worried - it could not have been better timed," he said.

Mr Singh sowed 3000 hectares this season and until last week, plants had a purple tinge from moisture stress.

"In April we had no rain," he said.

"In May we had dribs and drabs of 12mm, 5mm and 3mm - its just not enough to sustain a crop."

But despite the arrival of rain, Mr Singh said follow-up falls in the next fortnight were vital.

Eyre Peninsula agronomist Tristan Baldock, Buckleboo, said about 90 per cent of crops across the EP had emerged since the "solid" rainfall in the past week.

"The upper and eastern EP received from 25-50mm and crops are truly up and some are at early tillering," he said.

But, Cleve and Cowell only received 7-12mm.

"Most growers could have held out for about 10 days without rainfall but not any longer than that," Mr Baldock said.

Salter Springs-based agronomist Craig Davis said the Lower North and Mid North had received up to 50mm, with 40mm falling at Mallala.

"Crop establishment has been good post-May rainfall but non-wetting sand crops have been problematic," he said.

"But the June rain has helped that and should help get crops through until early July because there is now moisture at about 40 centimetres into the soil profile."

The Yorke Peninsula received from 25-50mm, with Maitland and Paskeville recording about 40mm.

AW Vater and Co agronomist Zack Zweck, Kadina, said northern YP croppers were in "desperate need" of rain.

"The rain in the past few weeks has really turned crops around," he said.

"Crops have recovered overnight but plants are definitely behind in growth."

But Mr Zweck said drier areas on the YP, such as Warooka, received about 30mm in the past week.

Mr Zweck said crops would need a further 25mm by the end of the month to help put growers in good stead for an average year.

Cox Rural Keith's Scott Hutchings said the recent rain was "the one South-East growers were looking for".

"Keith reached about 35mm for the week and it has given growers a couple of weeks up their sleeve because before that it was week-by-week for crops," he said.

"The feed crops have really taken off and they were the poorest seen in 20 years."

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