Early soak prompts more seeding

Headshot of Jenne Brammer
Jenne BrammerCountryman
Dale Goodwin of Xantippe, with sons Dexter (3) and Louie (1), celebrate rain at the weekend which means, following on from March rains, they have a full moisture profile in the soil and will start seeding imminently.
Camera IconDale Goodwin of Xantippe, with sons Dexter (3) and Louie (1), celebrate rain at the weekend which means, following on from March rains, they have a full moisture profile in the soil and will start seeding imminently. Credit: Dani McCreery, Wheatbelt Photography

WA’s seeding program continues to gather pace as further generous rains throughout the Wheatbelt boost hopes for a bumper 2016 season.

Many Wheatbelt areas over the past week have received abundant soaking rains, which follow on from welcome rains over Easter and throughout March.

In the past seven days to Tuesday morning, Bowgada and Coorow each received 43mm, Three Springs 44mm, Beverley 40mm, Quairading 36mm, Lake Grace 19mm, Pingelly 32mm and Narrogin 31mm, according to figures from the Bureau of Meteorology.

At Zantippe, east of Dalwallinu, the Goodwin family received 16mm over the past weekend to Tuesday morning, and it was still raining. Dale Goodwin, who farms with wife Penny with help from parents Janice and Lance, said this followed ample rains in March.

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“I’ve stopped measuring. It’s a great start for us; it’s not that common to start seeding with a full moisture profile” he said.

Mr Goodwin said he would start their seeding program with Mortlock oats late this week, which was about a week earlier than most years.

The Goodwins will also plant 400ha of Scope barley and 2200ha of Mace wheat, followed by 40ha of Trojan wheat for seed.

In the Mid West, the Hunt family of Coorow are a third of the way through their seeding program, after 88mm during March enabled them to start on March 26, marking their earliest ever start.

A further 26mm which fell on their property between last Friday and Tuesday morning, vindicated the family’s decision to plant 1250ha of canola and 1000ha of lupins early, said Mr Hunt, who farms with parents Ian and Helen, sister Shannon and her husband Simon Meyer.

“We have had a very good start to the season and are feeling pretty optimistic. There’s plenty of moisture in the ground,” Mr Hunt said.

“The early-sown canola has already germinated and is out of the ground — at the cotyledon stage.”

Mr Hunt said the lupin sowing program was nearing an end and they would concentrate on deep ripping and spraying until they started their 2250ha Calingiri and Mace wheat and 600ha Litmus barley planting programs later in the month.

The family, who also run sheep and cattle alongside their cropping program, will plant about 100ha of cereal rye and 50ha of Williams oats for hay.

Mr Hunt said although it had been a dream start to the season, they were cautious about being too optimistic.

“Last year also started very well and then we had some very long dry spells, including absolutely no rain during September,” he said.

“Last year still turned out to be a good year, but we are very conscious any season may not end quite as it started.”

Further north-east, near Mullewa, farmer Tony Critch started seeding on Tuesday, despite not benefiting from the abundant rains like many other parts of the State.

“We have had virtually nothing for the year, it’s been a weak start,” he said.

“But our program dictates that we get started today so we are concentrating on an area that had 11mm over the weekend,” he said.

Mr Critch said he would plant around a third of his program to canola and two thirds to wheat.

Further east, Nick Gillett, of Bencubbin, started his seeding program on Sunday, three days earlier than last year. The early start was made possible after about 40-50mm of rain fell over Easter, following on from ample rains in January and during harvest.

“We really wanted to get started early to ensure we could finish the seeding program on time, we are aiming to wrap up by May 25,” he said.

Mr Gillett, who farms with wife Tryphena, said he felt confident starting early given there was ample moisture at depth. A further 6-10mm rainfall since the start of the weekend, to Tuesday morning, further boosted hopes for a good year.

The Gilletts this year plan to plant 750ha of GM canola, 500ha of Mandelup lupins, 600ha of Williams oats, 1500ha of Scope and Hindmarsh barley, and 5500ha of Mace, Calingiri and Emu Rock wheat.

Mr Gillett said his canola plantings had increased this year by about 50 per cent at the expense of barley, due to the weak barley prices.

At Lake Grace, the Clarke family’s seeding program started last weekend, almost a week earlier than usual. Their 670ha Triazine Tolerant canola crop is in the ground and they were due to start planting their 400ha crop of Bannister and Cowaramup oats later in the week.

Leon Clarke, who farms with partner Sarah Ward and parents Doug and Debbie, said they received 40mm at Easter and about 12mm since last Friday (to Tuesday morning). This followed decent summer rains.

“We’ve had a brilliant start to the season, probably the best we’ve seen for many years; we’re very happy,” he said.

Mr Clarke said in addition to the canola and oats plantings, they would also plant 350ha of oats for hay, 1300ha of Hindmarsh barley and 500ha of wheat, mostly Mace. Around 1000ha will in chemical fallow.

At Bruce Rock, Stephen Strange, who farms with wife Karen and son Leigh and his wife Deanne, said 500ha of canola was in the ground, far earlier than normal.

“We often start dry seeding on Anzac Day but we’ve received 30-40mm over the past weekend to Tuesday and 80mm over Easter. We are taking advantage of the moisture,” he said.

Mr Strange said the Bruce Rock area in general had received almost 250mm since January 1, creeks were flowing, dams were full and there had been a good germination of weeds.

“I can’t remember a start as good as this for many years,” he said.

“The biggest challenge is the paddocks are wet and boggy, and there is some water logging. But they say there’s money in mud ... and it’s far better than dust.”

In addition to the 500ha of GM canola in the ground the Strange family will also plant a further 200ha of non-GM canola, 1800ha of Mace wheat, 1100ha of Scope barley and 120ha of Williams oats.

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