The winter season is shaping up and growers are very happy with recent rains, some are saying it could be the autumn break and have started to sow pasture seed, looking at improving pastures (grasses) for cattle and sheep to eat, and also fodder and forage (storage) crops, Elders Ballarat-Geelong agronomist Mick Walsh advises.
Cropping clients are starting to sow red feed wheat, some as early as next week and some canola will be sown too.
They’re also deciding on inputs such as fertiliser and nutrients to balance soil - urea, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
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Growers are planting/growing winter crops like wheat, barley, and canola, but faba beans are out of favour due to significantly reduced yields and a price crash last year, with still many of the crops held on farm.
Grain oats are also out of favour this year for the same reason.
Cereal prices at decade lows have meant many farmers are looking at broadleaf crops wherever possible for the 2017 winter plant.
Farming leaders across the country are reporting strong interest in canola and high value pulse crops, but have cautioned there are limits to how much more can be grown due to rotational pressures.
Other growers are looking even further out of the square to options such as increased livestock numbers or hay production, but the price of buying livestock is very expensive.
There is a building of breeding numbers in place at this time.
President of the Victorian No-Till Farmers Association (VNTFA) Paul Oxbrow said farmers in the south were likely to stick to their long-term rotations.
“There is a lot of speculation about people planting more pulses or more canola but in general farmers have pretty strict rotations.
“Maybe people will have the odd unallocated paddock they look to change into canola or pulse crops but I would not think it would be more than five per cent.”
He said in general Victoria’s cropping zone was yet to have substantial rain, despite good autumn rains, making it a bit of a risk to sow early, but big cropping areas need to sow early.
“Some areas up near the Murray River in the Mallee, such as Piangil, had good falls in storms, but most areas are still dry.”
There was also reasonable rainfall in the State’s medium to high rainfall zones in the far west and south-west.
Mr Oxbrow said farmers were taking notice of long term forecasts that indicated there was the prospect of an El Niño event developing, usually consistent with a drier than average spring. “People are looking at the forecast, although they will not base their planting decisions around it, they will be aware of it.”