AN ESTIMATED 4 million hectares has been sown to crop across SA for 2020-21 - significantly higher than the five-year average, according to the latest Crop and Pasture report from PIRSA.
Most of this was sown off the back of good rains in late April and a full soil moisture profile that enabled normal seeding operations.
PIRSA's senior industry adviser Dave Lewis said the good start to the 2020-21 growing season had resulted in seeding in some districts completed earlier than usual and close to normal for the rest of the state.
"Canola, lentil and bean crop areas have significantly increased on last year due to the good soil moisture along with a slight increase to the wheat area," he said.
"The barley area is also average, despite many growers swapping it at the last minute for other crops in response to China's decision to impose tariffs. However the area sown for domestic and export hay is smaller compared to last season."
Mr Lewis said early-sown crops had emerged rapidly with good crop establishment, while later sown crops experienced slower growth rates due to dry, cold, frosty conditions in early June.
"Slow growing crops on parts of Eyre Peninsula that have not had a chance to sufficiently cover soil, have suffered sand blasting damage from the strong winds associated with vigorous cold fronts traversing the state during June," he said.
"The cold and frosty conditions also impacted on pasture growth and while most livestock remain in good condition, producers in most districts have had to resume supplementary feeding due to the slowing pasture growth and high livestock prices."
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He said June temperatures were generally average in the agricultural areas but western EP and most of the pastoral zone experienced above average temperatures.
Mr Lewis said rainfall during June and July had varied significantly across the state, which did have an impact on results since.
"June rainfall varied from above average in the Adelaide Hills to very much below average in parts of the Northern Mallee and Eastern EP and July rainfall to-date is also much drier than average across the state," he said.
"Conditions remain extremely dry across most parts of the pastoral zone, with areas experiencing below average to very much below average rainfall, with the northern pastoral districts receiving little or no rain for the month."
Mr Lewis said there had been generally low disease levels but there had been reports of insect pests causing crop damage with snail and mice impacts controlled through baiting.
"Increased demand due to the easing of drought conditions in the eastern states and COVID-19 are impacting on producers' ability to access herbicides and insecticides," he said.
"Financial recovery from several years of drought and the areas affected by last summer's severe bushfires remain an important focus of recovery efforts in affected communities."
- Details: pir.sa.gov.au/cropreport
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