WHAT WE’VE SEEN SO FAR
We have reached the half way point of a very difficult season. The start was very similar to 2017, and we all know how hard rain has been to come by (lets hope that changes).
Most areas received a timely break in the first week of May, but moisture didn’t hang around for long. The areas that were fortunate enough to jag some extra showers got good crop establishment, and in general most crops got away to a better start than last year.
At least we were fortunate mice numbers at seeding and post seeding were almost non-existent, giving us a slight sigh of relief. That’s about the only thing the dry summer/autumn was good for.
During the first 3-6 months of the season most areas received some of the lowest rainfall totals in history, causing most crops to be well behind average (see NDVI images). Continual frosts and strong winds over early winter haven’t helped and really took the shine off most crops. Legumes in particular are now a good 2-3 week behind.
As of the end of July most crops are still on a knife edge. Early sown wheat crops are on the thin side and looking to run up. Barley and some legume crops are just hanging in there, and if we get a kind finish their potential could still be good.
Like most of the country, we are all still hoping for a very, very wet spring. Most of our growers are in fortunate areas compared to others in the country which are much worse off. If we can snag a kind spring, our region’s poor yields might be saved by decent grain pricing.
On the pest and disease front, the dry has spared us from the Russian Aphids which have been non-existent.
However, Septoria has been present in early sown wheat crops and needs attention. Leaf rust in barley has been slow, but is now starting to show up. Net Blotch in barley has also been slow with many crops quite clean from disease. Pulse diseases have so far been non-existent, but volunteer lentils have shown aschocyta and crops will be at risk if decent rains come.
That’s my ‘2 bob’s worth’. Let’s pray spring stays mild and wet.
(Update: 6th August 2018 – we had rain! Hopefully more still to come.)