Cropping fortunes vary across SA after dry June

Cropping fortunes vary across SA after dry June

Cropping
MIXED OUTLOOK: Pirie East's Leighton Johns says his family's marginal country needs a good soak, while crops on their better country are progressing well.

MIXED OUTLOOK: Pirie East's Leighton Johns says his family's marginal country needs a good soak, while crops on their better country are progressing well.

Aa

A DRIER-THAN-AVERAGE June across most of SA has had varying repercussions for the state's croppers, with some starting to hang out for rain, while others are still well on track for a bin-busting harvest.

Aa

A DRIER-THAN-AVERAGE June across most of SA has had varying repercussions for the state's croppers, with some starting to hang out for rain, while others are still well on track for a bin-busting harvest.

A monthly summary from the Bureau of Meteorology said SA experienced its driest June since 2007, with rainfall below to very much below-average across SA.

The northern pastoral districts received little to no rain for the month, with pockets of the Yorke Peninsula, Murray Valley, Adelaide Plains and Lower South East receiving their average.

Cox Rural Keith senior agronomist Scott Hutchings said a historically good April and May rainfall period helped growers get off to a much earlier start than usual, with crops two to three weeks more advanced than usual.

"We've got a really good soil profile so there's nothing limiting yield at this stage," he said.

"The majority of the canola and legumes have been sprayed and we're well into the cereals now.

"We want little dribs and drabs of rain throughout the next eight weeks without getting too much, otherwise the country will get wet.

"Average rainfall, or even slightly below, for July and August, will be fine as long as we get reasonable rainfall in September and October."

Mr Hutchings said he had observed more cutworm this season and earth mite pressure had been quite high, particularly in pastures.

"We're also starting to see a lot of snails in paddocks due to the early start and being quite wet," he said.

While much of the state is enjoying a good growing season, the situation is dire on much of the Upper Eyre Peninsula, with Kimba Nutrien Ag Solutions' Kym Villis saying isolated patches near Darke Peak and Pinkawillinie were good, but the bulk of the district was "quite poor" due to low rainfall and wind damage.

"We've got blokes who haven't had 100 millimetres of rain for the year," he said.

"On some of the heavy country, some crops have battled to emerge."

Average rainfall for the remainder of the growing season would be the golden ticket for crops grown by Pirie East farmer Leighton Johns.

Mr Johns farms on 4500 hectares at Pirie East with father Phillip and brother Byron, growing wheat, barley, field peas, vetch, while also sowing vetch and barley paddocks for sheep feed.

While their land to the east has received good rainfall and crops are bounding ahead, Mr Johns said the situation was slightly dicier in their drier western tract.

"Our better country is looking quite good, but our more marginal country needs a rain," he said.

"We had a really good start up until Anzac Day, receiving between 60 millimetres and 90mm of rain to get started, but since then on the marginal country we've only had 5mm rain events.

"That country is starting to look like it needs a good drink and we're getting quite a bit of Boron showing up in the crops now."

With below-average rainfall throughout much of SA in June, Mr Johns said they were fortunate to receive decent falls on their best country a fortnight ago.

"We were pretty lucky to pick up 12-18mm on our good country, while we had only 4-6mm on our marginal stuff," he said.

The variability in rainfall in June has borne true across the Lower North.

Recordings at Bureau of Meteorology stations show monthly figures of a below-average 13.8mm at Port Pirie Aerodrome, a close-to-average 55mm at Clare and a well-below average 25.2mm at Snowtown.

Mr Johns said their focus had shifted to lamb tailing and fencing for the time being, with most of their spraying finished.

He was optimistic that with average rain, the results would be great come harvest time.

"We're monitoring the peas for blackspot and any insects that may be around," he said.

"If we could have average rain from now on, we'd do very well.

"There's still subsoil moisture, but we're going to need a good finish because the crops are quite thick and using plenty of moisture."

April and May rains have provided a good base for Murraylands and Mallee growers, according to Elders Murray Bridge senior agronomist Craig Bell.

Mr Bell, who has clients east to Lameroo and Bowhill, and south to Coomandook, said average rain from here on in would most likely result in above-average yields.

"We've nearly got a full profile in most areas," he said.

"Most cereals have had one, if not two, spreads of nitrogen. Trace element sprays have been done, broadleafs are pretty quiet.

"If we get some good spring rain that will set us up for a pretty handy season."

Mr Bell had observed patches of cutworm and redlegged earth mite, while cereal aphids were present in some crops sown into feed.

Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Click here to sign up to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by