Dry start not the end for season
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.
WEEDY CROP: 2016 chickpea crop.
Weedy chickpea crop in southern Qld.