Patchy crops in south

The Western Star - - RURAL WEEKLY - Nidera Aus­tralia PETER McMEEKIN

RAIN is un­doubt­edly the best panacea for mood and con­fi­dence in agri­cul­ture. Wide­spread falls across much of the east­ern Aus­tralian crop­ping belt, in the first 10 days of Oc­to­ber, has cer­tainly been grate­fully re­ceived, after an ex­tremely dry Septem­ber sapped yield po­ten­tial from the na­tion’s win­ter crop.

How­ever, the crop pro­duc­tion pic­ture is still quite var­ied, par­tic­u­larly across the east­ern seaboard. The south­ern Queens­land har­vest is un­der­way and the vast ma­jor­ity of crops in that re­gion are far too ad­vanced to de­rive any ben­e­fit from the re­cent pre­cip­i­ta­tion.

The story is quite sim­i­lar for north-west­ern New South Wales where the dry Septem­ber snuffed out any hope for many of the crops in that re­gion. Those that will still har­vest are look­ing at yields well be­low av­er­age in most in­stances.

Stay­ing in north­ern New South Wales, but east of the Newell High­way, the pro­duc­tion out­look is far bet­ter. The dry start to spring cer­tainly took its toll but many of the crops still have slightly be­low av­er­age to av­er­age po­ten­tial. The later sown, less ad­vanced crops will have en­joyed last week’s rain and will profit ac­cord­ingly.

Across cen­tral and south­ern New South Wales, the pro­duc­tion out­look is very mixed. Some ar­eas snagged some good rain­fall through the win­ter months and the re­cent rain event ar­rived just in the nick of time to main­tain crop po­ten­tial. Un­for­tu­nately, for other ar­eas, the Oc­to­ber rain means very lit­tle as the crop has strug­gled all year due to a com­bi­na­tion of late sow­ing and/or poor ger­mi­na­tion, lack of mois­ture and frosts. Fi­nal pro­duc­tion will cer­tainly be less than the late Au­gust po­ten­tial in these ar­eas.

Vic­to­ria has been the pick of the east­ern states all sea­son. Most ar­eas got off to a crack­ing start with great sow­ing rains, good ger­mi­na­tion and a favourable win­ter. The pro­duc­tion out­look in some ar­eas was bet­ter than last year.

Nev­er­the­less, big crops need plenty of mois­ture and the drier-than-av­er­age Septem­ber through much of the Wim­mera and Mallee, has de­creased pro­duc­tion ex­pec­ta­tions. The crops are now quite parched and re­quire a good drink to main­tain above av­er­age yield po­ten­tial.

In South Aus­tralia the re­cov­ery in the pro­duc­tion out­look through Au­gust was quite dra­matic in many ar­eas. A dry start to win­ter was re­placed by a wet fin­ish and the crops flour­ished. Nev­er­the­less, like much of east­ern Aus­tralia, Septem­ber was dis­ap­point­ing from a rain­fall per­spec­tive. Oc­to­ber has also been be­low av­er­age month-to-date.

After a record 2016/17 sea­son, the cur­rent win­ter crop pro­duc­tion out­look from Queens­land around to South Aus­tralia is more like a box of cho­co­lates. It ranges from very good in some ar­eas, to a write-off in oth­ers, and no­body knows ex­actly what they will get.

The rain­fall fore­cast across the east­ern states for this week should be enough to lock in cur­rent crop po­ten­tial in the south, and pro­vide ad­di­tional soil mois­ture in the north, to en­sure the sorghum plant com­mences be­fore the spring plant­ing win­dow closes.

PHOTO: ZORAN ZEREMSKI

OUT­LOOK: After a record 2016/17 sea­son, the cur­rent win­ter crop pro­duc­tion out­look from Queens­land around to South Aus­tralia is more like a box of cho­co­lates.

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