Maize yield down in Burnett
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.”
GOOD PLAN: Tingoora peanut and maize farmer Gary Anderson waited until late in the season to plant.