August dry spell bites into yield

Claire TyrrellCountryman

The Watson family is hoping their low-risk approach will pay off this year.

Scott, his wife Hayley, Scott's brother Trevor and wife Peta farm 12km east of Bonnie Rock.

After dry seasons in 2009 and 2010, they decided to grow a full cereal program this year.

"We usually grow chickpeas and lupins, but we decided to keep it low risk," Scott said.

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Last season the Watsons left 600 hectares unharvested. With 260mm of annual rain so far, Scott said he was hoping for a complete turnaround this harvest.

"We are hoping to bounce back this year," he said. "We inspected the crop the other day and things are looking pretty good."

Temperatures reached minus two in Bonnie Rock last week, but Scott said his crops were developed enough to not suffer from frost damage.

He said a dry spell in the middle of the season put the crops under some stress.

"We've only had two frosts over the winter, but nothing too bad," he said. "If there is any damage this year it would be from the dry spell we had in August when we got about 8mm over a month."

Scott said the dry patch would set back his yield by about 10 per cent.

"We would be close to a two-tonne (wheat) crop, but now it will be a couple of bags less than that," he said.

Yitpi is 2600ha of Scott's program. He sowed the crop in May, after receiving two 45mm rainfall events in February and March.

"We sowed it wet on May 1 and it's looking really good," Scott said.

"We put in 45kg per hectare of Yitpi with 50kg of Agras and 25 litres of Flexi-N post emergent."

The family received 13mm of rain on September 20.

Scott said the crops should have enough rain to finish on, but more rain would be beneficial.

"The crops are a bit green, so more rain would be a benefit," he said.

The family missed out on good rain early this week, receiving just 2mm, while 40mm was recorded nearby.

The Watsons expect to start harvesting in the first week of November.

Fast facts *

_Who: _ Scott, Hayley, Trevor and Peta Watson

_Where: _ Bonnie Rock

_What: _ 6000ha of wheat and 500ha of barley

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