February 04, 2019

Drought continues - after a short and patchy reprieve from September to the end of November that allowed us the privilege of harvesting something off our winter crops and being able to start a mediocre summer crop in places, we are firmly back in the grips of the drought. A few things to consider while it keeps on blistering -

Early mung beans, sorghum, sunflowers and corn are off or getting harvested in the next week or two. Results mixed but mostly below average with the exception of the early Garah, Boomi sorghum crop that is more like a Croppa Creek average. Later planted sorghum is finishing very hard now and will be well below average and downgraded most likely due to screenings - but still very valuable per ton compared to other years. Early dryland cotton is struggling as it has flowered to the top and is shedding top fruit due to moisture stress. Lower bolls will finish ok, potentially with high micronaire. Late dryland cotton is 14-18 nodes and just flowering so has 10 days to 2 weeks before it hits the wall. Some irrigators are scrounging the bottom of their dams and bores to find the water needed to finish their crops. It has been another high evaporative demand season. It will be another record year for something heat related, unrelenting, although Tamworth has been hotter than us a fair bit the last 4 weeks!

Livestock - other than key breeders think long and hard about which stock you have to keep to reignite your herd after rain unless you have abundant grain & hay on hand. Consider the market value of that feed now also, compared to another winter of feeding. Surface water is getting more scarce. There are 25% rebates available now for any recent capital works done on stock water systems including de-silting dams. Rural Assistance Authority.

Cropping Rotation - All grains are priced well at the moment so all options are open in our cropping rotation. Take care to remember what residual herbicides are down so we don't plant something in vain. There will be some carry over nutrition in fields that under-performed last season. Soil test fields to find out what's there to make sure we spend our fertiliser dollars strategically and wisely in the next few months. Contact us with your soil testing requirements. Ground cover has been gold for efficiently storing fallow moisture, establishing a crop and sustaining it in these dry years. Cereal crops will give us the best ground cover and as there was a big bulge in chickpea area in '16 & '17 those fields will need to go back into cereals for ground cover. Just add water!

Grain - cash in on some great grain values on offer now but make sure you and your mates retain adequate planting seed of key varieties. Stored grain pests haven't holidayed in the drought so keep an eye on grain and treat as required. Seed grading is continuing, maybe hold off seed dressing your seed until closer to planting when we know what's happening. With the Russian Wheat Aphid moving closer (Coonabarrabran) advice continues to treat all cereal seed with insecticide (Cruiser or Gaucho) for planting. We still have a seed register running at AMPS for your benefit only, so if you have excess seed or need to top up a variety you dry sowed last season and didn't get back please ring the office, we have already linked up some growers to help each other out.

Mental Health - take the opportunity the drought has presented to get together with people more regularly - family, friends, neighbours etc. Stay off social media if it is giving you a headache or invite some city cousins up to see what's really happening in the country. Look around for who you can help, someone doing it tougher than you. Take the time to be grateful for the good things we are blessed with in this beautiful country, even if they are a bit dusty at the moment! Getting involved in a local sport or club with like minded people is a great way to stay connected and have some fun in a tough year. Our local rugby club the Weebolla Bulls are having a massive year with a  Classic Wallabies Day and Golf Day coming up soon.

AMPS Research Winter Crop Reviews are coming up soon and will be a great time to get together, marvel at what was achieved both commercially and by Matt and his amazing Research team in such a tough year last year, and plan our moves for this season. AMPS have invested over $3,000,000 dollars in Research in the last 7 years alone and some of the productivity and profitability gains from this research are astounding! The uptake of Lancer, our most efficient and profitable wheat variety, was led by AMPS growers who hit 80% while the industry average was still below 40%. Early sowing of Lancer resulting from our elevation and time of sow work has resulted in higher yields and profits most years but last year gave one Liverpool Plains grower $300,000 worth of wheat he wouldn't have otherwise had with the only planting opportunity of the season being too early for the traditional window. Mark these events down as must attends for your farming operation.

Forecasting -as is normal this time of year we will be contacting you to get Plan A for this coming winter crop so we can custom build the supply of ag chem to suit your requirements for this season.

In the increasing battle against herbicide resistance we are looking to soil applied residual grass herbicides to reduce the amount of emerged grass weeds we need to knock down in crop. This issue may have increased on farms that have imported hay or feed grain from other areas with the potential of resistant weed seeds, particularly ryegrass, hitching the ride to your farm. We will be holding another grass residual herbicide meeting and practical workshop on the 19th of February - keep an eye out for that invite.

Contact our Moree branch on 6752 9001


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