Farmers who attended the Finley Discussion Group crop establishment meetings in early June are not optimistic about the season according to the group facilitator John Lacy.
Although the season started with good 35-60mm rain in early May most farmers said they are managing for a dryland rather than an irrigated season, Mr Lacy said..
"We are hearing typical comments like: "tread carefully, farming for an average year so cautious, very little confidence but not as bad as last year's yield potential, more optimistic but still cautious on urea rates, vulnerable as have no carryover water, not confident a 2-2.5t/ha wheat year" and they represented most of the farmers thoughts," he noted.
"June rain has not given farmers much more heart, with no farmers planning for summer crops such as rice and corn."
June rain has not given farmers much more heart, with no farmers planning for summer crops such as rice and corn
Mr Lacy pointed out most farmers have little carryover water left as it was used for autumn watering of grazing wheat and canola and subclover pastures.
With predicted market water prices in spring of $500/ML, that would price annual crop and pasture watering out of the picture, he said.
"There would need to be a big turnaround in rainfall to fill the dams as there was in spring 2016 when many rice farmers used waterlogged and failed winter crop paddocks for rice,"
Emergence for some of the 35 percent of paddocks dry sown in April was patchy, and the heavy rain in early May caused crusting particularly on lighter soils.
Mr Lacy further noted issues which could have an impact on potential yield.
"The sowing and press wheel hills particularly from knifepoints caved in after the rain," he said. "Canola sown with knifepoints had ridges flattened by the rain so canola sown at 15-20mm depth ended up at 30-40mm."
Mr Lacy noted canola in soil with no cover was worst affected by the rain but where canola was sown into irrigated stubble the emergence was better.
"There has been a large swing to grazing wheat, barley, oats and canola because of the high lamb prices and some cropping farmers who had gone out of sheep have come back to sheep which provided a business saving cash flow during the millennium drought," he said.