Northern Wheatbelt locust threat easing

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Northern Wheatbelt producers are taking precautions to stop spur-throated locusts eating the emerging crop, but fortunately the threat appears to be easing.

Glenn and Eliza Thomas and Glenn’s parents, Michael and Barbara, run two blocks from 10km to 30km west of Mullewa and a block in Pindar, 55km east of the main farm.

Glenn said they were confident to go in dry this year, because of the record summer rainfall, totalling up to 300mm.

“We had about 60 per cent in (dry) and were about to stop before the (May) rain, so the timing was perfect,” Glenn said.

Seeding started on April 26 and finished a month later. The rain gauges recorded about 70mm of rain for May and all of the crop was up before heading into June.

The lupins were sown first. Some germinated on subsoil moisture alone, as a result increasing the seeding depth.

“We went in a bit deeper to try and get some of our lupins out of the ground on the summer rain,” Glenn said.

“We sowed our lupins at about 50mm on the heavy soil, which was an extra 25mm to normal.”

Locusts posed a threat to their early germinating crops.

“Our lupins were the only crop that came up from our summer rain. At the time we were worried because they were the only green crop on the farm,” he said.

“We aerially sprayed 400ha of lupins for locusts with Regent at $6 a hectare.”

Glenn also applied a seed treatment to the canola crop to repel locusts from eating the crop as it emerged.

He said locust numbers had dropped significantly since the start of the year and did not seem to be affecting the growth of the crops.

Glenn said he felt confident this season would be just as good as the past few years.

“We’ve had three really good years and now we are looking at a fourth,” he said.

“We’ve been really lucky after the droughts (in 2006 and 2007).”

This season also marks their first canola crop for about five years, a decision made because of the good subsoil moisture in their paddocks.

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