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    ON TRACK: Murra Warra farmer Blair Thomas is about three-quarters of the way through his sowing program. Mr Thomas said there was plenty of moisture in the soil at the moment. Rain is expected across the Wimmera in the next couple of days, with between 10 and 20-millimetres forecast for Monday.  Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

AgLife: Solid start for region crop sowing

By Abby Walter

Wimmera farmers are hopeful that consistent autumn rain is the beginning of a positive season for winter crops.

National Farmers Federation vice-president David Jochinke said this year had provided an ‘excellent’ sowing and weed control window for Wimmera farmers.

“Winter growth should be good this year,” he said.

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“We have been able to do knockdowns as part of our program and also had the opportunity to do double knocks in some places.

“The moist soil will help allow pre-emergents to work fully if they are applied correctly.”

Before crops were sown, Wimmera farmers were spraying ‘knockdowns’ to prepare their paddocks for cropping to eliminate any green-plant material.

The rain would then activate any pre-emergents sprayed to help prevent weeds from growing once the crop was sown.  

Mr Jochinke, who farms at Murra Warra north of Horsham, said because crops were sown into moisture this year, early growth could be seen throughout paddocks.

“It was nothing like this last year when lots of farmers were sowing into dry conditions,” he said.

“We’re in the third year of the La Niña and we’re finally seeing that rain fall in the southern part of the eastern coast.

“Rain is tricky, we want it when we want it, but we can’t do without it.”

In 2022, rain totals to May 18 were 159 millimetres at Horsham compared with 73.4 millimetres during the same period in 2021.

The average rain for Horsham between the start of the year and the end of May is 125.6 millimetres.

Wimmera Catchment Management Authority chief executive David Brennan said in some parts of the Wimmera, the rain had provided the best start in many years.

“What we’ve seen is an increase in the soil moisture profile, so wetlands are starting to hold water and we have damper ecosystems,” he said.

“We couldn’t be in a better position, but it’s still very early in the season and we need the rain to continue.”

Australian Bureau of Meteorology predicts June to August rain is likely to be above the median for much of mainland Australia.

Large parts of eastern Australia have a 40 to 60 percent chance of being in the wettest 20 percent of past June to August periods.

This is about two to three times higher than the normal likelihood of a very wet season.

Mr Brennan said he was hoping to see decent inflows into storages, rivers and wetlands if the rain continued.

“Other years it has been very dry at this point in the year and people have been nervous, but everything is primed and good this year,” he said.

“The green we are seeing around is a sign of productivity and hope for the season ahead.

“It’s good to get enough rain for farming, but to get enough for significant inflows would be the icing on the cake for everyone.”

Mr Jochinke said as the season started to tick over farmers would need more rain.

“We would need good spring rainfall to capitalise on this good start,” he said.

“What would be ideal is that we get good weed control, it stays reasonably wet throughout winter, we have a cool, moist spring and prices hold where they are.

“That’s what would be ideal for Wimmera farmers.”

The entire May 25, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire May 25, 2022 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!