Maize yield down in Bur­nett

South Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY - Michael Nolan michael.nolan @south­bur­nett­times.com.au

THE South Bur­nett maize crop isn’t look­ing too good.

Th­ese hot, dry days have kicked the guts out of the early sea­son crop and you’ll see pad­docks full of parched plants aroung the district.

Luck­ily, Tin­goora farmer Gary An­der­son said a maize crop could have a poor yield and still pay off for farm­ers.

“There’s not much money in it, I mainly do it to boost to boost the peanut yield,” Mr An­der­son said.

He waited un­til late in the sea­son to plant more than 550 hectares of corn.

“There’s time to get a good crop off this, be­ing fairly late. They can suf­fer quite a bit at that age and still get a rea­son­able yield,” he said.

“Whereas the ear­lier crops – they could never be a good crop, they’re too ad­vanced. Rain will help them but it won’t re­ally make a good yield of it.

“But that’s the cli­mate, that’s what we farm in.”

Once har­vested, the stub­ble will be tilled into the soil to add ad­di­tional or­ganic mat­ter.

“I guess we al­ways had a min­i­mum of one crop of corn be­tween the peanuts,” Mr An­der­son said.

“If we have good av­er­age sea­son, the peanut crop would be prof­itable enough you could put two grass crops in front.

“That ex­tra peanut yield would pay for the grass crop,” he said.

Ro­tat­ing be­tween maize and peanuts works to re­duce the the like­li­hood of soil­borne dis­ease tak­ing hold.

“Dis­eases tend to build up in one crop so, if you grow that same crop again, they’re there ready to in­fect the plant quite early in its life and they can do quite a lot of dam­age,” he said.

“All crops are a bit like that, it’s never good to mono­cul­ture any crop.”

Tak­ing a longer-term view may be ex­pen­sive when the dry and heat re­duce maize crop but Mr An­der­son said it was worth it.

“If it’s good for the soil, it’ll be good for the crops.

“It might take a cou­ple of years but ul­ti­mately that’s got to be your fo­cus.

“You’ve got to look af­ter your soil oth­er­wise there’s no fu­ture, even if in the short-term it doesn’t seem eco­nomic.

“In the long-term its the only way to sur­vive.”

In decades passed there wasn’t as much fo­cus on soil health but to­day’s farm­ers, with help from in­dus­try groups and gov­ern­ment sci­en­tists, are work­ing to re­pair the dam­age.

“A lot of that is to do with the fer­tilis­ers we use which means we have more stub­ble to put back into the soil.

“We’re work­ing the ground less,” he said. “There would be less dou­ble-up of peanuts through­out the district than what there used to be, where was that was a fairly com­mon oc­cur­rence there a gen­er­a­tion ago.”

PHOTO: MICHAEL NOLAN

GOOD PLAN: Tin­goora peanut and maize farmer Gary An­der­son waited un­til late in the sea­son to plant.

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