Carnamah grower buoyed by early soaking

Rueben HaleCountryman
Carnamah grower buoyed by early soaking
Camera IconCarnamah grower buoyed by early soaking Credit: Countryman

Carnamah grower Bob Dempster says he’s confident of a bumper crop on the back of consistent and early rains.

Mr Dempster and his family had more than 170mm of rain soak their 3600ha Mid West property in the past month.

The early soakings have meant the Dempsters have sown more than half of their canola and lupin crops, which they began planting more than three weeks ago.

Mr Dempster said the early sowing, which has resulted in some canola sprouting to four-leaf stage already, will pay dividends for the family’s third cropping year since they moved to the property from Dongara.

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This year the Dempsters plan to sow 2000ha of wheat, 700ha of canola and 500ha of lupins.

“Last year was a good year for us, apart from the late-planted lupins at 800kg a hectare, yielding 2.5t a hectare for wheat and 1.5t a hectare for canola,” he said. “But this year with the early rains we’re confident of even better yields.”

Mr Dempster said the farm had a good level of moisture that he was confident would hold.

“The extremely moist soil has presented an opportunity for us to start seeding early,” he said. We started planting canola about three weeks ago and had just finished putting in Mandelup lupins last Thursday.

“Some of the canola has been drenched by more consistent rains this week and the latest stretch of rains should mean the early planted crops will really start to take off.”

Mr Dempster said it was the earliest they’d sown a crop in the three years of farming at the property.

“We got rain, upon rain, upon rain, so we decided we take a chance and plant half the crop earlier and see what happens,” he said.

“But we weren’t prepared to plant all the seeds too early because of the risk of Diamondback moths.”

Mr Dempster also said with the solid lupin price he’d been keen to get the crop in early.

“Lupins are the only commodity that has maintained a good price,” he said. “The wheat price isn’t very good and neither is the canola, but luckily we sold our canola crop at the beginning of harvest, so we aren’t too concerned about that, and last year we planted lupins too late and we suffered for that decision.”

Meanwhile, Planfarm agronomist Richard Quinlan said farmers in the Mid West should plant now.

“My advice is a little bit different to late March and early April, when I really wasn’t keen on people planting in the early rains, because some of the properties, particularly some of the ones with smaller programs, didn’t have enough store moisture in the soil,” he said.

“By planting then they really could have been testing the limits of technology because it could have meant missing out on the opportunity to apply glyphosate.

“But now with the consistency of the rain it makes sense to plant now because losing a seeding opportunity is the greater risk.”

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