Eyre Peninsular farmers enjoying positive harvest yields and market conditions

Farmers reap rewards of good season

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NEW SEASON PROMISE: Carrs' Seeds agronomist Bridget Heal inspects crops in autumn near Kapinnie, north-west of Cummins. Photo: ALICIA LAUBE

NEW SEASON PROMISE: Carrs' Seeds agronomist Bridget Heal inspects crops in autumn near Kapinnie, north-west of Cummins. Photo: ALICIA LAUBE

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A good growing season this year has buoyed the outlook of producers across the region, who are well into harvest and starting to plan for 2021.

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As the Eyre Peninsula's crop and hay harvest rolls-on, grain prices are holding firm, livestock markets continue to strengthen and wool values are bobbing along.

This is the pointy end of the cropping and shearing season.

But the attention of farmers across the region will soon turn to planning and preparing for 2021.

Grain producers are this year likely to reap higher than average crop yields in the lower EP, and about average yields in the western and eastern parts of the region.

Carrs' Seeds agronomist Bridget Heal said the lower EP had an excellent break around ANZAC Day this year, with particularly good opening rains in Wanilla - where some growers were now pulling in upwards of five tonnes a hectare cereal yields.

"Much of the Eyre Peninsula had a very dry July," she said.

"But rain arrived for the critical grain fill period in spring.

"The dry conditions in late winter may have knocked the edge off some yields, but we don't think it will be significant.

"Wetter than average October rain across much of South Australia's cropping areas finished crops off very well.

"And this has boosted soil moisture to provide a good insurance policy for next year - if weeds can be managed well."

Weather forecasting models indicate Australia is experiencing a La Nina pattern that is expected to last for three to five months. This is likely to result in continued wet summer conditions.

Ms Heal said this would be positive for planting summer crops, generating good feed for grazing livestock and adding to the soil moisture bucket.

She said there was a plethora of new perennial and annual pasture species available to Eyre Peninsula croppers and graziers this year.

She recommended seeking advice from an agronomist about the best species and pasture mixes to use for specific environments.

"We have seen an uptick in sales of sorghum and millet in the past three weeks, so growers are already starting to think about summer sowing," she said.

With farmers on the South Australian mainland now able to plant genetically-modified crops, Ms Heal said there was also a buzz around the farming community as farmers started to investigate the best rotations and variety selections for the 2021 winter cropping season.

The SA government this year rejected bids by 11 local councils to remain GM-free zones and removed he moratorium on GM crops everywhere, except Kangaroo Island.

Primary Industries Minister David Basham said this action indicated it was backing the state's farmers and researchers to grow the agriculture sector and create jobs.

He said individual businesses could still maintain non-GM markets, as occurs in other mainland states.

Ms Heal said already there was strong interest from croppers in sourcing GM canola varieties and she recommended they start ordering seed soon while stocks were available.

She said the Pioneer hybrid 44Y94 - a replacement for 44Y90 - was likely to be popular in the Eyre Peninsula. This is promoted as a 'game changing' Y Series hybrid.

It has consistently performed well in the early-mid maturity Clearfield segment, with good early vigour and high yield for maturity.

Ms Heal said many growers in the lower Eyre Peninsula had also been closely watching results for Hyola Enforcer CT.

She said this is a new generation of Clearfield + Triazine dual - or 'stacked' - herbicide tolerant canola hybrids.

Where growers may have issues with imidazolinone herbicide residues for next season, Ms Heal said there may be a fit for the new Kingbale imi-tolerant oat.

"The new imi-tolerant Compass-type barley (yet to be named) has sparked a lot of interest as well, as growers are looking for a competitive, high yielding variety where imi herbicides can be applied," she said.

"These new varieties give the region's growers new options for rotation planning and more effective weed control.

"Most are excited about the opportunity to grow GM canola, but there are some reservations about markets."

Ms Heal said, during harvest, it was a good idea to note areas of paddocks and properties that were under-performing with yields.

"Then soil sampling and any necessary soil amelioration practices can be carried out over the summer in preparation for next year's sowing," she said.

Livestock producers across the Eyre Peninsula region will also be planning and budgeting for next year during the summer months.

Most have enjoyed a year of buoyant prices, especially for quality stock, and are reaping the rewards of feeding through previous dry periods and continuing to improve genetics.

After the unusual year of coronavirus restrictions impacting on numbers of people able to attend livestock sales and wool auctions, these key industries were able to keep forging ahead and safeguarded the supply chain from farm to market.

Industry representatives agreed to limit attendance at saleyards to essential staff, accredited agents and buyers with a true intention to purchase.

Livestock transporters were also allowed into selling centres to load and unload animals.

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