Record crop on the cards

Rueben HaleCountryman

The National Australia Bank predicts a record wheat yield this season is “certainly a possibility”.

NAB agribusiness economist Phin Ziebell has backed a Rabobank survey reported last week, which found WA farmers were the most positive in the nation after an excellent start to the cropping season.

Mr Ziebell said the bank’s current forecast for WA wheat yields is 1.9 tonnes/ha for 2016-17 — not quite as high as the 2.1t/ha in 2011-12 or 2.0t/ha in 2013-14 — but still respectable and well above the last two seasons.

“Our forecast is based on average rainfall for the remainder of the season, which would see the WA wheat crop at 9.5 million tonnes,” he said.

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“However, the latest winter rainfall outlook forecasts are generally above average rainfall for the next three months. If rainfall is above average there is scope for an even bigger crop, approaching or even surpassing 10 million tonnes.

“There is certainly scope to go beyond 1.9t/ha this season if growers enjoy a good winter. We expect other broadacre crops to perform similarly well in the west.”

Konnongorring farmer Nathan Davey agrees, saying he we was very pleased with the season so far coming off the back of a terrible year.

This year Mr Davey, who has planted 70 per cent wheat for his 4000ha crop this year, says he was always fearful of frost damage with a dry spring, as had happened last year.

“Now with benefit of yield mapping from the header you can clearly see where the frost damage is occurring. The crop looks fine, but in fact there is nothing there,” he said.

“We’ve had about 200mm of rain since the end of February and some paddocks have been sprayed twice, with another knock-down in the middle of April and May meaning some paddocks have sprayed four times.”

Mr Davey said he started with Margarita French serradella pasture on Anzac Day, to mitigate the risk of frost damage.

“Apart from the wheat we also planted oats, export hay and barley,” he said.

“We had a really good price for export hay last year, but we hope the price will hold for this year because of a wet spring.”

Mr Davey also said he was hopeful of continued optimism in the sheep industry.

He said the lamb market was paying about $5kg at the moment, which made the choice to produce 2500 White Dorper ewes were instead of growing canola an easy one to make.

“I always have lambs for sale because I have a drop three times every two years, so I have them in blocks of different growth stages,” he said.

“Since lick feeders have come about it means I can feed almost year round, with the hope there is some good stubble paddocks to lamb nearer to the summer months.”

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