Sum­mer plant­ing slow start

Spo­radic rain is mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for farm­ers to make a start on Jan­uary crop­ping

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE -

SUM­MER plant­ing sea­son is un­der­way in the Bur­nett, but farm­ers are con­cerned the spo­radic rain­fall won’t be enough.

Mung­bean, sorghum and a small amount of corn are look­ing to be the main sum­mer crop in the Monto area, with the for­m­ers’ cur­rent strong mar­ket price mak­ing it an at­trac­tive op­tion to grow­ers.

Farmer Russ Sal­is­bury said most prop­er­ties are low on sub­soil mois­ture, mean­ing there isn’t enough in the cur­rent rain lev­els the area has been re­ceiv­ing.

“It could all change within a day de­pend­ing on the weather, so time will tell,” Mr Sal­is­bury said.

“Some ir­ri­ga­tion farm­ers have al­ready started; my farm will be­gin plant­ing next week.”

Ac­cord­ing to Weather­zone records, the av­er­age rain­fall in the Monto re­gion is 112.3mm in Jan­uary over roughly 9.9 days.

While it’s too soon to tell how it will stack up un­til the end of the month, records show the area has had 6 days of show­ers al­ready, pro­duc­ing a to­tal of 30.5mm across the re­gion.

Un­less things pick up soon, most farm­ers in the area are un­likely to be able to plant with­out ir­ri­ga­tion.

Mr Sal­is­bury said those who hadn’t al­ready done so would need to start plant­ing soon or miss the win­dow for the sea­son.

“Two to four inches of rain would be a good start for plant­ing, plus some fol­low-up once it’s in the ground,” Mr Sal­is­bury said.

“We’ve only got an­other month to get this crop in the ground be­fore it’s too late.”

At this point, most of the farm­ers in the area who have made a start have had to rely on ir­ri­ga­tion.

Farmer Brad Forsyth is one of a few farm­ers to have al­ready made a start on plant­ing, put­ting in 160 acres of mung­bean.

Last Fri­day, his prop­erty re­ceived 12mm of rain.

“It was good on what we just planted, but we’re hop­ing we get more,” Mr Forsyth said.

“We’ve got 170 acres of corn to plant; we’re try­ing to get it in and away early over the next few weeks.”

Mr Forsyth said they were pre­pared to rely on ir­ri­ga­tion if they had to.

Mung­beans are a hun­dred day crop to har­vest, rel­a­tively quick but mak­ing main­te­nance cru­cial.

Far­mStuff agron­o­mist Ken­dall Muller said pro­vid­ing the rain comes in, it should get the best re­sults.

“The main thing is to keep them planted in the clean coun­try and keep them sprayed for in­sects,” Mr Muller said.

“For corn, as long as there’s ad­e­quate mois­ture and nu­tri­tion to en­sure there’s half a crop and keep the weeds un­der con­trol, it should be fine.”

Mung­bean typ­i­cally re­quires a larger amount of crop space to plant due to lower yields, good rain­fall and high main­te­nance.

But the re­wards are po­ten­tially worth it, as mung­bean cur­rently goes for around $1100 a tonne.

PHOTO: JACK LAWRIE

SUM­MER CROP PRE­VIEW: Russ Sal­is­bury gets ready for plant­ing in the next two weeks.

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