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Canola leads early season charge

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Jenne BrammerCountryman

Rainfall across the Wheatbelt over the past week has further boosted farmers’ hopes of a good season, as the State’s seeding program gets into full swing.

Planfarm consultant Graeme McConnell said in the central and eastern Wheatbelt, most of the canola was now in the ground.

“There’s quite a bit of lupins and barley that has gone in the ground and a few people are starting to dabble in the long-season wheat,” he said.

“It’s been pretty good progress so far and the State’s seeding program is well ahead of schedule.”

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Among farmers to start planting wheat was Kayne Campbell of Kalannie. After a welcome 7mm of rainfall on Monday he started seeding his 1300ha Mace wheat crop.

Mr Campbell, who farms with parents Lindsay and Lee, said seeding started on Wednesday. Before that they were concentrating on pre-seeding work.

He said the family were feeling very confident about the season after receiving more than 100mm during and since Easter.

“It’s certainly the wettest I can remember — it’s a very promising start to the cropping year,” he said.

He expected the seeding program would finish about mid to late June.

Almost 190mm of rainfall so far this year — much of which was from Easter onwards — has enabled the WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin to make one of its earliest starts to seeding yet.

College technical officer for grains Shane Childs said the planting of a 170ha Bonito and Stingray canola crop started on April 16, sown into wet soil after the abundant rains. Some of the earlier-sown canola was already starting to emerge.

The latest rainfall event of about 18mm which fell on Monday provided welcome top up to the existing soil moisture levels.

Earlier this week, students at the college had moved on to planting serradella, made possible this year because of the extra early moisture. The students will then seed a paddock of clover before moving on to planting 250ha of Gunyidi and Jurien lupins.

Mr Childs said the college planned to increase its barley plantings to 440ha as part of its general rotation plan, using the Scope and Sparticus varieties. Meanwhile, 355ha of Mace, Magenta and Corack wheat would be planted, possibly starting next week.

The agricultural college will this year plant a 1400ha crop, larger than in previous years because it recently acquired the use of some additional land. Other planned plantings include 90ha of triticale, 40ha of field peas and 60ha of oats.

“The majority of the Year 12 students will be involved in seeding the crop, and the Year 11 students will be responsible for the harvest at the end of the year,” Mr Childs said.

Mr Childs said the college was fortunate to have been using the latest spray and seeding equipment, using variable rate technology on the seeder for its second year.

“Furthermore, so far we’ve had a brilliant start to the season and are feeling very optimistic about the year ahead.”

The farm, which recently increased to 3300ha of arable land after its acquisition of the use of further land includes cattle, sheep, poultry and pig enterprises in addition to the cropping program.

Mr O’Connell said across the Wheatbelt farmers were pleased with the moisture levels.

“They are cautiously optimistic about the season ahead. There’s still a long way to go but there is no doubt this season has gotten off to a very good start,” he said.

Where the rain fell

New Norcia: 23mm

Badgingarra Reserve: 26mm

Yandanooka: 23mm

Bolgart: 33mm

Kondut 39mm

Nungarin 29mm

Cadoux 27mm

Nangeenan 40mm

Trayning 38mm

Wongan Hills 23mm

Pingelly 17mm

Source: BOM seven days to Tuesday April 26

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