More the Merrier

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Weekend rain put 9mm in John and Ruth Young's rain gauge but the Calingiri farmers' eyes remain firmly on the sky.

The Young family started dry seeding genetically modified canola last week and the recent rain has given them the kick-start they needed - but John said they wanted more.

If their paddocks can pick up the 10mm of rain forecast for later this week, it will be reason to smile.

"There's a bit of moisture but we're also bringing up dry soil with it," John said. "We'll probably need more rain on top of the canola because it will be drying out by then - we're losing a bit of moisture seeding."

The canola has not germinated but given the recent drink, John expects it to come up shortly.

"With the DBS and the good water harvesting it will come up on that," he said. "You dig it up now and you can see that the furrow is very wet and it's drying on the inter-row.

"We had a little bit of summer rain, so we had some moisture down there at depth but it needs to join up."

A week into seeding and almost a quarter of the way through their 4300-hectare program, the Youngs are boosting canola plantings by 10 per cent to capitalise on strong prices.

John said their entire canola program would be filled with GM varieties, after promising results last year.

"We had half-half last year and I was happy with the GM," he said.

"There's a bit of extra weed control and the gross margin is about the same. That's not to say we won't grow TT again - because we will."

While the Youngs might have had enough rain to dampen their soils, other areas are still waiting for solid falls.

Leigh Strange said they had received just 1mm at Bruce Rock and 1.5mm at Quairading, which had only "settled the dust".

Summer rain has given the Stranges good moisture at Bruce Rock and Leigh said they would start dry seeding canola this week.

"There's good moisture 5cm from the surface in places at Bruce Rock but it's significantly drier at Quairading," he said.

Farther south at Neridup, Paul Dell'Agostino's property received no rain over the weekend but he said there was moisture at depth after Cyclone Lua dumped 60mm on his paddocks in March.

"There's a bit of moisture down deep and the grass is hanging on in some paddocks but for seeding we'll want more rain," Paul said.

The rain came at the perfect time for West Mullewa grower Peter Barnetson but it was not quite enough.

Peter started dry seeding canola on Friday and over Saturday and Sunday picked up 11-15mm.

But he said it was the only rain his paddocks had received all year and the soil simply soaked it up.

"We'll wait for the ground to dry out before we put lupins in - this is enough (moisture) to swell them but not enough to get them out of the ground," Peter said. "As soon as the soil dries out, we'll go on with our dry seeding program - there's about two-thirds we can sow dry."

There is little rainfall forecast for the Mid West in the next three days but the Bureau of Meteorology's John Relf said there could be falls of 1-5mm for the South West, Great Southern and western half of the central Wheatbelt from today.

On Friday, falls of 5-10mm are forecast for the same area.

According to the Grain Industry Association of WA's first forecast for the season, WA growers are expected to plant slightly more hectares than last year - up to 7.95 million.

That includes 4.52 million hectares of wheat, 1.11 million hectares of barley and 915,000ha of canola.

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