Dry start not the end for sea­son

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Rural Weekly - PAUL MCIN­TOSH

IT AP­PEARS to me that this dry weather is get­ting ev­ery­body down and I am not immune to this to­tal lack of any rain in our north­ern grow­ing area.

As a com­mer­cial agron­o­mist ad­vis­ing farm­ers and other agros for nearly 40 years now, I have been through a few droughts and a few floods. When you do this agron­omy job us­ing your skill and knowl­edge, you cer­tainly take some own­er­ship of the crop or farm you are work­ing on. In other words, if the crop is medi­ocre to bad, you feel the hits as well and on the other hand, a tremen­dous yield­ing crop with good prices is a real pos­i­tive in pride and sat­is­fac­tion of an agron­omy job well done.

An ex­tra virtue of mine is a rea­son­able mem­ory for past years’ weather pat­terns, good and bad or should I say, flood and droughts.

Many still talk about the

1976 wheat crop as a rip­per with good timely plant­ing rain and some good falls through the grow­ing time.

A cool spring with no late frost was ic­ing on the cake for good re­turns that year to many Queens­land farm­ing op­er­a­tions.

The year of 1982 was as cold and dry as you would ever ex­pe­ri­ence and so our ce­real crops yielded be­low av­er­age and that was the first year that Har­tog was re­leased in min­i­mal quan­ti­ties. A great wheat va­ri­ety it is still.

The next two years were wet, with rain and floods from the 40-odd inches many re­ceived over the year and weeds com­peted heav­ily with the crops. Zero till or con­ser­va­tion farm­ing at that stage was just a term to men­tion at field days. So on to

1988 and 1989 which were flood years in many ar­eas and the 1998 win­ter also was very wet. Then of course the well re­mem­bered heavy rain and floods of the 2010 in late win­ter and spring.

It can turn around on a dime this cur­rent weather pat­tern we now have and many of you will re­call, we have grown wheat and bar­ley crops on pri­mary root growth only. Now over these times, some folk re­ceived just enough rain to be use­ful and oth­ers had not quite enough. The yield dif­fer­ence was quite sig­nif­i­cant in these sit­u­a­tions, even com­par­ing with just your next door neigh­bour.

The other past re­al­i­ties I re­call is time of sow­ing. Yep, the plant­ing date of our win­ter crops and I in­clude chick­peas in these mus­ings.

The photo at­tached is one I took on the Novem­ber 1, 2016, in south­ern Queens­land. A very wet year af­ter a very dry start. This rea­son­able look­ing chick­pea crop was planted in July as I re­call and so were many other re­spectable chick­pea crops through south­ern and cen­tral Queens­land. By many, I sus­pect the to­tal chick­pea hectares dou­bled af­ter this good July rain.

The win­ter start of 2017 was dry and with the high price of chick­peas around, there were enough pad­docks of the new Seamer va­ri­ety planted late. By late, I mean July. No doubt some­one would have also planted Hat­trick or Bound­ary at this late stage. Many of these very late time of sow­ings of Seamer chick­peas, yielded over 2.0 tonne per hectare up to nearly 3.0 tonne per ha.

A Kyabra crop on the West­ern Downs also yielded sim­i­larly from a late plant.

Many of us have planted ce­re­als in mid to late July at a heav­ier plant pop­u­la­tion of course and had re­spectable yields of 2.0 to 3.0 tonne per hectare also. The long mild spring we can get in wheat or bar­ley’s flow­er­ing and grain fill pe­riod, will also have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on yield and qual­ity.

So yes it is dry, how­ever it is noth­ing we have not had be­fore and we know how quick it can turn for us. Let us hope it does this very soon and you are well pre­pared to take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to get seed in the ground suc­cess­fully, while still us­ing good agro­nomic and prac­ti­cal skills for any de­ci­sion mak­ing.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

WEEDY CROP: 2016 chick­pea crop.

PHOTO: PAUL MCIN­TOSH

Weedy chick­pea crop in south­ern Qld.

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