Rains challenge eastern crop potential

Liz Wells, September 16, 2016
Flood-affected cropping paddocks near Forbes in central west NSW. Source: Forbes Shire Council.

Flood-affected cropping paddocks near Forbes in central west NSW. Source: Forbes Shire Council.


ANOTHER round of heavy rains across the eastern farming belt in the past few days has topped up soil moisture levels in many areas, but left farmers in regions already waterlogged by earlier falls wondering what it will mean for crop yield potential and disease thresholds.

In NSW where the season had been travelling along nicely, the past couple of weeks of widespread rains have tipped the pendulum to being too wet and starting to impact crop yield potential.

NSW Farmers grains committee member, Dan Cooper, Forbes, said the rain had been widespread across the state with some of the heavier falls around Condobolin, Warren, Trangie and Moree.

“It is starting to undo a lot of the potential that was there. There were some areas where the rain was helpful, but I think in most areas they have reached the tipping point and it is not as beneficial,” he said.

“In the flood areas like the Bland, around Lake Cowal, Trangie and Warren it has become very wet and waterlogging is starting to become an issue. Over winter those wet patches were getting wet then drying out and getting wet again, but it is really starting to get to the point where those crops won’t recover and will start to die.

“There will be a lot of disease pressure. Stripe rust has been found in susceptible varieties.”

Mr Cooper said in the north of the state a lot of the crops were out in ear and starting to grain fill. To the south, they were at head emergence stage, while closer to the border with Victoria they were close to flag leaf emergence.

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In Victoria, the latest rain has generally been good news for crop producers throughout the Mallee and Wimmera.

Victorian Farmers Federation vice president and grains president, Brett Hosking, said the western half of the state had seen very significant rain in the past week, many places recording over 100 millimetres.

While it had caused flooding on some rivers, the Avoca and Loddon in particular, he said overall it had been beneficial to the state’s maturing winter crops.

“We always say in Victoria if we have a wet Melbourne Show it is pretty good for Victoria. Melbourne Show starts tomorrow, so it is ideal timing for the grains industry to capitalise on the season so far,” he said.

“Overall it has been a timely event and a very welcome event for Victoria.

“But obviously anybody in flood prone areas will have concerns about too much water.”

Mr Hosking said across the state wheat crops were at the head emergence stage and grain fill was underway.

“There are a few concerns with disease and rust showing up in some of the wheat crops, but we are heading into the adult plant period, so hopefully there will be some level of resistance come from adult plants,” he said.

Canola is finishing flowering, particularly in the north west. Pulses are flowering and starting to pod.


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