THE season across most of the Mid North has been described as a bit of a rollercoaster for growers, after the region had a bone dry start through to managing the effects of waterlogging in newly-emerged crops.
With most croppers expecting a slightly better season than experienced in the past few years, it was a morale-squashing start when moisture levels failed to rise enough for ideal seeding conditions.
Germination was almost non-existent, according to Ground-Up Agronomy's Michelle Bammann, Clare, causing big concerns early on.
"Dry seeding was even an issue, it was a very tricky start," she said.
In some paddocks, up to a couple of tonne of grain littered the soil from the bout of windy weather at the end of last year's harvest, forcing growers to wait for rain to be able to start sowing.
"This pushed the district back a bit," Ms Bammann said.
Once the rain began, it stopped, she said, causing havoc with input schedules and potentially further impacting yields.
"The district scraped though with enough rain to get the crops finished," she said.
From about Clare to Jamestown, most growers began harvest in mid-November because of the cool finish but toward Crystal Brook, growers began in the first week of November.
Marble-sized hail pelted most crops in the Lower North at the end of October and Salter Springs independent agronomist Craig Davis said quite a few ripe lentil paddocks were severely affected.
"Lower yielding crops were mostly affected by the hail because of a lack of canopy to protect the crop," he said.
"Anywhere up to 50 per cent losses were recorded from wind damage too."
Crops have suffered at the hands of Mother Nature a few times this year, with hay paddocks and wind rowed canola all but blown apart by windy days at the back end of the season.
"Spring has been tough. It brought a lack of rain and wind and frustrations for growers about the performance of crops," Mr Davis said. "There is a slight bit of resentment for the spring forecast, that is for sure."
Frost damage that occurred mid-way through the year was not widespread but for those that were affected, it was significant.
Crops that were originally destined to be cut for hay were retained as grain crops as commodity prices continue to soar.
"They have had worse years for frost but it was still not ideal," Mr Davis said.
"All crops seem to be tracking relatively well and should produce average yields."
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IT WAS a stop and start beginning to seeding for most of the Mid North, as rain arrived but failed to hang about long enough for many croppers, including Balaklava mixed-farmer Tim Shepherd, to get crops in on time.
A rotation of wheat, barley, peas and lentils, as well as sown pastures were on the to-do list for Mr Shepherd, but the very late break and little follow-up rain put dampener on the season from the get go.
"We got out of jail in June and July but prior to that, the taps just would not turn on," he said.
"At one stage, I went up north for two weeks to work and dad only managed four days of sowing."
Opening rain brought just a few sporadic days of moisture to begin sowing of the main crops including wheat, which began on about May 27 after dry sowing feed earlier in the month.
The growing season has delivered just 246 millimetres with most that arriving in June with 62mm and July at 73mm.
Spring was dry and just 23mm has fallen.
"Considering the lack of rain, crops look like they will yield well," Mr Shepherd said.
"It looked like it could have been a pretty dyer year, particularly with the wind at the beginning of September but crops recovered well."
The recent hail storm did not affect the Shepherds crops but frost had bitten a few, with the full impact yet to be determined.
"We have escaped a few bad situations this year but we are heading for a just below average year I would say," he said.
Mr Shepherd said barley and wheat crops were expected to yield about 2.5 tonnes.
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