Summer crops on radar for farmers with soggy paddocks

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Cally DupeThe West Australian
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COUNTRYMAN. Kendenup farmer Chris Kirkwood has put French White Millet in as a summer crop. PHOTO: DANELLA BEVIS
Camera IconCOUNTRYMAN. Kendenup farmer Chris Kirkwood has put French White Millet in as a summer crop. PHOTO: DANELLA BEVIS Credit: Danella Bevis

Summer crop production could roar back to life in WA this year with widespread rain likely to leave some soil profiles full of moisture.

But it will be ground cover rather than cash crops most farmers target as they consider ways to stop washed out paddocks from sitting bare.

Elders agronomist James Bee, who works with clients between Albany and Jerramungup, said some of his clients’ paddocks had been inundated with water.

He said the full soil moisture profiles of some washed out paddocks had some farmers questioning whether to reseed or wait to plant a summer crop in spring.

“There may be an opportunity to sow summer crops in September and October to use soil moisture,” Mr Bee said. “The soil profile is currently full, there is just no capacity.”

Pioneer Seeds territory sales manager Peter Bostock said the company had already fielded inquiries from farmers interested in planting a summer crop.

The company’s Super Sweet Sudan sorghum variety has grown in popularity in recent years.

“With the excess moisture and crop loss, there has been interest in summer crop plantings for this spring,” Mr Bostock said.

“One factor growers need to be mindful of is chemical residue from chemicals applied during the season.

“There are a number of chemicals that are used during the year that can have an affect on summer crops ... so growers need to speak with their agronomist or seed supplier.

“There will be an opportunity for some growers to plant an opportunistic millet or sorghum.”

One factor growers need to be mindful of is chemical residue from chemicals applied during the season.

Peter Bostock

York agronomist Michael Lamond, who writes the Grain Industry Association of WA crop report, said farmers with “washed out paddocks” may consider summer crops for ground cover.

“I’m sure it will be the case, particularly in high rainfall areas they will be weighing up crop failure,” he said. “The tricky thing about it is that winter crops easily come up in cool temperatures, and summer crops just don’t.

“So you have to wait for the weather to warm up. “They (summer crops) have never been majorly successful because our soils are too shallow.

“On the South Coast, they will be weighing up cover. They don’t want to have ground exposed, they will more be doing that cover rather than a cash crop.”

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