Crops in need of winter rain

June 20, 2017

Cosgrove cropping farmer Allan Shields amongst a 6 ha crop of Winfred Brassica.

The dry winter in northern Victoria is hampering crop growth, according to a Cosgrove farmer.

Allan Shields said the current dry winter was affecting the quality of the crops on his 800ha property.

Mr Shields, who grows several crops including canola, wheat and Winfred brassica, has decided to grow these instead of faba beans and vetch hay and use his livestock to eradicate barley grass from the crops.

‘‘I have 500 lambs which I’m using to get rid of (push out) the barley grass,’’ he said.

Mr Shields said he’d had only 3mm of rain for June and it was affecting some of the canola crops.

‘‘The canola around the trees are going blue due to a lack of moisture,’’ he said.

The lack of rain has also affected the crop spraying program.

‘‘I haven’t been able to put urea on the crops because there has been no rain to wash it in. I’ve also had to hold back spraying canola because of the frost. There is a poor uptake of the spray when frost is around,’’ he said.

According to the recently released Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) report, winter crop production is predicted to fall by more than 30 per cent in 2017-18, while the government’s agricultural forecaster says wheat production will drop by 31 per cent to 24.2million tonnes, while barley will be down 39 per cent.

Despite these figures, Mr Shields was optimistic.

‘‘Every year I’m happy — I think it’s the seeder. I’ve sowed in different conditions and there has been no real failure at this stage,’’ Mr Shields said.

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