PRODUCTION estimates for crops in low-lying areas of New South Wales and northern and central Victoria are dropping as flooding and successive rain events pressure the outlook for canola, cereals and pulses.
Crop area losses are now up to 50 per cent for some growers in the Macquarie, Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and Murray Valleys in NSW.
Offsetting the losses are potentially record yields in undulating red loam country in south-central NSW, and in slopes country generally.
In Victoria, flooding in tributaries of the Goulburn and Murray rivers has sparked a succession of evacuation orders in mostly dairying and fodder-cropping country.
Disease in pulses especially is reducing yield estimates in Victoria’s key cropping areas, the Mallee and the Wimmera.
Mixed bag in NSW
Summit Ag consultant Emma Ayliffe said while some crops will not recover from their latest dousing, others have phenomenal yield potential.
The standouts are districts on the outer verges of the Lachlan Valley, and irrigation country which has the ability to drain.
“The sun is shining today, and we can get around which makes a nice change; it’s the next front we’re worried about,” Ms Ayliffe said.
Falls in NSW were generally modest in the week to 9am today, with Riverina locations the exception.
Registrations include: Coleambally 57mm; Deniliquin 68mm; Finley 88mm; Hay 60mm, and Narrandera 45mm.
“The early crop is good and progressing well, with above-average yield potential, and there’s a sliding scale all the way down to crop losses.”
Ms Ayliffe said being able to get on to country in order to windrow in the case of canola, and harvest in the case of all crops will be the issue, with more rain on the forecast set to make a troublesome situation worse.
“Some growers are looking at crop losses of 1-5 per cent, and for some it’s nearly 50pc.
“A lot of these crops have been inundated through their critical flowering period.”
She said free-draining loamy country in areas north and west of Condobolin looked to have excellent yield potential.
“When places on the Lachlan were getting 60mm, these guys were getting more like 20mm, and they’ll have an amazing year.”
Ms Ayliffe said her home farm at Lake Cargelligo was normally windrowing canola by October 14 but is not expected to start until the end of the month in the universally late season brought on by delayed planting for many, and mild and wet conditions to date.
“We’re still flowering.
“Our windrowing contractor is at Goondiwindi now, and it sounds like there’s not much to windrow between here and Goondiwindi.
“It’s going to end up like the cotton season, when it’s all going to come in within three weeks.”
Ms Ayliffe said irrigation country was a stand-out, and had potential to produce wheat crops of desired protein because its soils have been able to drain.
“There will be some protein on dryland because some have gone hard on urea to hit those targets.”
Disease bites in Victoria
Flooding is creating emergency situations in parts of Victoria including Bendigo, Charlton and Echuca.
Wimmera grower Andrew Weidemann said a front forecast to bring more rain this weekend is of concern as landholders and townships deal with inundation.
“We’re seeing floods going through watercourses and spreading across paddocks, and a lot will come and go quickly,” Mr Weidemann said.
As wet conditions prevail, faba beans are being impacted by chocolate spot, and botrytis is hitting lentils as dense growth provides the ideal environment for fungi.
“Lentils in the Mallee now have botrytis in them, and that could be 50pc of the area,” Mr Weidemann said.
“Because the crops are so heavy, they’re continually moist, and that’s the problem; they can’t dry out.”
Mr Weidemann said accessing paddocks will be an issue for windrowing canola that will start later this month, weather permitting.
While crop and yield losses in pulses are now unavoidable, he said the silver lining would be the nitrogen fixed in the plant’s root system, and welcome result in these times of high urea prices.
“There is some solace in that, and in the moisture in the ground for next year’s crop.”
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