Farming in Focus Winter 2020


MITCH SMALL, AGRONOMIST, MR SMALL AGRONOMY It’s extraordinary to think where we were in late January (and for some into March) compared to what opportunities we have now and moving forward. The rainbow ride continues for unprecedented dry matter production and plant growth for this time of year. Certainly, for the younger generation, it’s difficult to compare the current season to a similar year.

Drought scars from the last 3 years are still evident in some bank accounts, so too in degraded pastures full of weeds – at least some of the older generation may stop referring back to 1982! The good operators that remember 1983 are probably fit to comment and compare the turn around witnessed this year to back then. As many have struggled to balance their feed inventory with livestock, and capitalise on revenue making opportunities (albeit at a level of risk), others are dodging wet areas and completing final post emergent sprays. Challenges this year are of a different kind as we are challenged to manage many facets of farming business albeit in a different form. It is interesting how different organisations view the world through a different lens and understand years such as this are significant in terms of farm profit contribution over an average of years. We must take into context the extraordinary seasonal conditions however voices continue to echo regarding sowing windows. Matching cultivar with sowing time and a planning to graze in line with the animal production calendar are important decisions. No point sowing in mid March with the only stock class to graze in June being spring lambing ewes! Monitoring pests and diseases Monitoring pests and diseases in

good seasons is just as important as ever. Aphid pressure in 970 Canola has been observed in most areas and pressure will need to be monitored closely to avoid using insecticides unless of commercial benefit. Russian Wheat Aphid reports are somewhat concerning in main season cereals, their presence in our dual purpose crops if entering now would not have the impact of an earlier existence. A new stripe rust pathotype 198 has been observed in both Wedgetail wheat and Illabo (to name a few). With heavy crop canopies and mild conditions increasing to warm, we will need to be vigilant with fungicide protection when applying broadleaf sprays after lock up.


• Aphid pressure in 970 canola

• Russian Wheat Aphid

• New Stripe Rust pathotype

• Prepare now for Spring planting

• Monitor green bud development for a better handle on lock up timing • Undertake deep N soil testing to validate top dressing requirements

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