Image Upload

File size must be less than 2Mb

You must have online publishing permission or full ownership of this image

File types (jpg, png, gif)

  • Hero image
    PROMISING START: Tatyoon agronomist Ash Maconachie is encouraged by a wet summer and autumn period.

AgLife: Early cropping start for Ararat district farmers


Broadacre farmers across the Wimmera-Mallee are eagerly prepping their paddocks for an early start this sowing season off the back of a wet summer and autumn. 

Rainfall totals have been varied across the region during the pre-sowing season, with locations such as Ararat experiencing above average rainfall at more than 75 millimeters in March. 

Meanwhile, Edenhope received less than 10mm and Hopetoun in the southern Mallee less than 5mm in March. Horsham received 37mm this month. 

Article continues below

Tatyoon agronomist Ash Maconachie, who works with farmers across Tatyoon and surrounding districts, said a wet summer and autumn period was a positive sign for grain producers this year. 

“After the rain we’ve had over the past couple of weeks, we’re off to a fairly good start and in general we’ve had a wet summer,” he said.

“Traditionally once we get a start, we need enough water to get us through winter, which we already have – we’re pretty close to a full soil-moisture profile and lack of moisture certainly won’t be an issue.

“The danger for us this year is it could be too wet, which sounds counterintuitive, but farmers could experience water logging if there’s a lot of water in the profile.”  

Mr Maconachie said farmers in his region would likely start planting pasture crops for livestock and wheat this week. 

“Everyone is preparing with fertiliser, chemicals and pre-season maintenance. But I expect this week or the week after there might be some early sown long-season wheat happening across Ararat and district,” he said.

“Because we’ve got so much moisture around there will probably be a fair bit of pasture getting sown and some long-season wheat. But it’s probably a touch too early at the moment to be sowing canola.

“Our general sowing start will be somewhere between April 10 and 20 and there might even be some farmers starting before that.”

Mr Maconachie said he would advise producers working under wet conditions to sow early to avoid growth issues. 

“Everyone is going to need to be really organised and sowing early. Once we’re into April, farmers are going to go really hard at it because we do have that potential to get wet,” he said. 

Mr Maconachie said he expected farmers in western Victoria could be in for another strong harvest this season off the back of some record-breaking results in season 2020-21. 

“We’re going to have a really good start – but cropping wise, we’re really reliant on what happens in autumn and winter,” he said. “It’s always luck of the draw though, anything could happen.

“We had a pretty awesome season last year – canola averaged anywhere from three to four tonne per hectare and wheat was anywhere from five to eight depending on where the farmer was operating.” 

Bureau of Meteorology predictions for April to June show no significant shift towards a wetter or drier three months, with chances of exceeding median rainfall close to 50 percent. 

A La Niña weather pattern that has affected much of Australia’s east is almost over, but might have a lingering influence on rainfall patterns into April.

The entire March 31, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire March 31, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!