CONCERNS about fertiliser shipment delays and a potential mice outbreak have been front of mind for many SA farmers already this season, but as seeding preparation gets under way, it is clear that growers are in a better than expected position.
Many growers are at the forefront with fertiliser and urea orders, as well as paddock monitoring, according to SA agronomists, resulting in most already securing enough inputs for this season.
On the Eyre Peninsula, growers ordered fertiliser about two months earlier than in past seasons, Carr's Seeds agronomist Denis Pedler, Cummins, says, and 95 per cent of growers in the area were supplied in that period.
"The fertiliser season began in December and it was a bonus to source it at the lower prices," he said.
"It was an unusual start to the year and urea has been similar. Some has been sold at the lower price but since January it has increased."
Despite active mice burrows being visible since the end of last year, Mr Pedler said numbers had not increased dramatically.
"Some croppers are searching for mice at night and they are seeing some. Those growers will probably bait post seeding," he said.
The Burford family at Balaklava crop 1700 hectares and sourced inputs months earlier than usual and began spreading sulphate of ammonia this week to boost nitrogen prior to seeding.
David Burford said he was concerned about fertiliser shortages and sourced surplus crop requirements when harvest finished last year.
"We were lucky to get it at the lower price," he said.
"We decided that if fertiliser and urea availability and prices were unstable, we would just source it all at once instead of waiting to see what would happen in the months ahead."
But despite "smooth sailing" with their paddock preparation, Matthew Burford said mice activity was a slight concern.
"We have some paddocks that have a fair few burrows so we will spread that paddock in a few weeks or so," he said. "We have had mice issues in the past but hopefully SA steers clear of a plague."
Independent Salter Springs agronomist Craig David believed fertiliser delays had mostly been resolved but there was still a delayed shipment that was expected to arrive in April.
"Supply seems to be flowing better now but hopefully this most recent shipment arrives soon," he said.
But some growers have decided to sit out of the fertiliser market while prices are high.
"They have bought a percentage of their needs but will leave the remainder swinging until prices hopefully come down," he said.
"Growers will also start making decisions on urea - there have not been significant purchases for the season yet."
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Mr Davis was hopeful the price would decrease for growers to secure supplies for early post-emergent applications.
Cox Rural Keith senior agronomist Scott Hutchings said a trend toward growers ordering fertiliser earlier continued this season, with the majority of growers receiving it on-farm this week.
"There are a few that have only just got into gear with that because the lucerne harvest has just finished," he said. "But I would expect no major delays for them."
The Upper South East has so far been "lucky" with mice populations remaining very low, Mr Hutchings says, with limited to no numbers being reported.
"Hopefully it remains that way," he said.
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