Yield potential rises despite frost damage in Lower North

Yield potential rises despite frost damage in Lower North

Cropping
SEASON WRAP: Mallala graingrower Sam Irish and his dog Pepper in a durum crop.

SEASON WRAP: Mallala graingrower Sam Irish and his dog Pepper in a durum crop.

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LOWER North graingrowers have battled a harsh finish and frost-damaged crops for a second consecutive season. But yields could still "stack up".

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LOWER North graingrowers have battled a harsh finish and frost-damaged crops for a second consecutive season.

But despite this, yield potential could still "stack up", agronomists say.

Most of the Adelaide Plains have reached about 260 millimetres of growing season rainfall.

Salter Springs agronomist Craig Davis therefore expected early-sown crop yields to be quite reasonable, if they were not impacted by late frost damage.

"The later-sown areas are where I would expect to see decreased yields because of no soil moisture, frost damage and drying wind at the end of the season," he said.

"The Adelaide Plains would have equally as bad frost damage as last year, so a lot of growers were organised and cut crops for hay earlier this year.

"Most growers really did not want to wait and get caught out with adverse weather conditions, but there were some crops that could have yielded higher than hay crops if they were left."

But Mr Davis said early-sown crops that avoided late frost damage could potentially yield between 2.5 tonnes a hectare to 4t/ha.

"Hay or legume crops will yield a lot higher," he said.

"Despite hay prices being slightly back, it will still be a pretty good return for growers who had to cut more hay than usual."

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Stockport reached 215mm GSR and Roseworthy recorded 206mm.

Surrounding areas of Owen and Balaklava received between 200mm and 220mm for the year.

"Spring rain was down by about 75mm in those parts and drying wind combined with frost damage has meant some growers suffered significant crop losses," Mr Davis said.

"Barley and lentil crops were reapt first, but the late heat has brought back yield slightly."

Mr Davis also said late insect pressure in canola crops was prominent.

"Heliothus begins to chew and scour the seed pods," he said.

"Aphids have also made a late appearance.

"It will definitely be a short harvest.

"There is not the volume to get through this year."

Harvest 'wash-up' not a shock

THE Irish family at Mallala were impressed with crop bulk this season, but Sam Irish was still concerned about decreased yields in wheat and barley crops.

Mr Irish said most of the Adelaide Plains was about 100 millimetres down for annual rainfall, after much-needed finishing rain for his 1900 hectares of crops was "nowhere to be seen".

"The wash-up of this year will be no shock and on par with last year," he said.

Frost damage later in the growing season and low moisture also impacted 270ha of lentils.

"We began to cut lentils for hay on September 8. My yield estimate was 500 kilograms/ha whereas hay yielded 3 tonne/ha to 3.7t/ha," he said.

The Irishes expect to complete harvest by early December, three weeks earlier than past seasons.

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