Tentative start to season
Farmers from Tammin to Narembeen have started sowing canola in the hope of capitalising on subsoil moisture lingering from summer rain.
Seeding began this week in parts of Tammin, Quairading, Narembeen and Corrigin.
Tammin grower Tim York, who farms with his brother, Stuart, recorded 250mm of rain in a two-week period in February.
Mr York said he had seeded 400ha of canola by Tuesday.
He was hoping there was enough subsoil moisture to carry the crops until the next rain event.
“We thought while we have got a bit of confidence in sowing canola, we would get going,” he said.
“Now we are waiting on a rain to get it out of the ground but the forecast is not that promising.
“If there had been another rain last week, there would probably be a lot of seeding going on.”
The brothers run a cropping enterprise across 6500ha on properties at Tammin and Kellerberrin, and grow canola, lupins, wheat and barley.
They had carried out extensive spraying to combat weeds that arose after the summer rain.
Mr York said farmers he had spoken to were hoping for a good crop after the “extra cost of summer spraying”.
Grant Mills also took to the fields this week, sowing his first ATR Bonito canola for 2017.
The Mills family grows wheat, barley, canola and lupins on farms both leased and owned at Quairading, Brookton, Corrigin and Narembeen. Of the family’s 5500ha of land, about 3500ha will be cropped this year.
“We’re hoping for 5-10mm of rain in coming weeks, just enough to germinate the canola,” Mr Mills said.
“Most people would start a bit earlier this year, as the summer rainfall has given us that extra bit of confidence. We have a lot of subsoil moisture so the little bits we planted, we think, will germinate a week or two after the next rain.”
Department of Agriculture and Food WA research officer Martin Harries said canola seeding would gather pace in the coming weeks.
Mr Harries said a handful of grazing crops were planted across the grain belt last month, but a limited amount of canola was in the ground.
“Some farmers are making the most of the seeding conditions at the moment,” he said. “It’s a dry-sowing technique, so that if you get a small rain event the crop can emerge with some rain.
“If things do turn out dry, the early sowing is good and means the seed can hang onto the moisture in the soil.”
Early predictions have been of a bumper season for canola across the State.
The Grains Industry Association of WA has estimated a 10 to 20 per cent increase on last year’s record canola plantings of 1.2 million hectares.
The oilseed is currently fetching about a $250 per tonne premium over the highest quality wheat.
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