Dry start to sowing season drives crop decisions


Cropping
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DRY conditions during the canola planting window have seen a significant decrease in the North West's canola crop, with growers opting instead for chickpeas and barley.

DRY conditions during the canola planting window have seen a significant decrease in the North West's canola crop, with growers opting instead for chickpeas and barley.

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While canola planting has increased slightly in parts of the Narrabri and Bellata areas, growers east of the Newell Highway have reduced their canola area, and in some cases entirely replaced it.

This can also be seen in the Croppa Creek area where canola has been replaced by chickpeas due to the later planting window, said McGregor Gourlay agronomist, Scott Rogers.

Sporadic rain a fortnight ago - ranging from eight millimetres to 45mm - helped set growers up for chickpeas and barley.

"Moisture is right down so we've seen canola drop by 75 to 80 per cent," Mr Rogers said.

"With chickpeas having a later planting window, we were able to use the recent rain.

"The planting rain just wasn't around in April and May for canola."

Moisture problems led to a change in rotation for Sean Coleman, "Nobby Park", Yallaroi.

Mr Coleman has planted 450ha of barley, 1000ha of wheat, 380ha of durum, and 700ha of chickpeas.

"I put more barley in than I usually would," he said.

"We didn't have enough subsoil moisture for my liking to plant canola and were hammered two years in a row with frost and dry weather."

Jeff Nixon, "Merwood", North Star, hasn't gone away from canola, having planted in May, but decreased his planting area from 1400ha to 500ha.

"Last year I broke my own rule not to plant before Anzac Day and we had frost and yield dropped from two tonnes a hectare to a 1.3 average," Mr Nixon said.

"The best yielding canola we had was in 2010, which was planted in June.

"A lot of people who had the moisture and planted early are worried their canola is too far advanced."

The big advantage to using canola in the rotation is weed control.

"We've been able to control fleabane, wild oats - all broadleaf weeds using canola in the rotation," Mr Nixon said.

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