A DROP or so of rain is wanted to encourage growth of grazing crops in the Canowindra district.
Sharefarmer, Ian Duguid, has Merino lambs currently in a feedlot, waiting for a 35 hectare grazing canola crop to come on line so they can be finished.
Elders Cowra agronomist, Peter Watt, said excellent sub-soil conditions in the region had encouraged early grazing crop sowing on top of the abundance of existing pasture and self-sown crops which were enhancing on-property livestock feed supplies.
But Mr Duguid said he and wife Margie, had plenty of sub-soil moisture, but could do with a shower of rain to freshen things and encourage grazing crop growth to transfer sheep onto.
The Duguids are sharefarming 300ha on Edwina and Hugh Savage's Pine Grove, Canowindra, and the Hyola 970 CL canola was sown at a rate of 2.8 kilograms/ha on March 5.
"We sowed on a promise of rain that didn't come, but germination was good and it began to take off after some big rain," Mr Duguid said.
While there is a self-replacing Merino flock on Pine Grove, the Duguids bought some lambs from Western Australia contracted to finish by the end of June.
The feedlot has been cost effective as Mr Duguid said buying silage was cheaper than he could have made it, and also much cheaper than agistment.
This autumn their grazing crops consist of 90ha wheat, 20ha barley and the 35hs of canola.
That's much less than last year.
"We grew 220ha last year but lambs were slightly easier to buy then too. But not this year," he said.
The Yambla barley has also established well, but could also do with a drink.
Mr Watt said the region could "actually use some follow-up rain".
"Last year we rolled-off some 700 to 750 millimetres of rain, but to date this year about 100 to 150mm," he said. "But it hasn't rained for about three and-a-half weeks, which is not that bad as it has allowed croppers a break to facilitate a lot of preparation work for sowing.
"After last year we can't really complain."
Canola sowings increase in Cowra region
WITH a full sub-soil moisture profile exiting last year and a full profile going into the winter cropping season, it's hard to get better, according to Cowra region agronomist, Peter Watt of Elders.
On the grain side of cropping Mr Watt said there's been an upswing to canola this season.
"You can take contracts and there's a bit of a firm pricing out there, so I'd say the canola acreage could be up by a s much as 10 to 15 per cent," Mr Watt said.
"I think the other big change is obviously barley's on the nose. There's a lot of stored barley and some nervousness about overseas markets, so a bit of a change out of barley this season, and more sowing towards canola and wheat as well as the few gaps being filled ti chickpeas and fava beans, plus other varieties that have a good commodity price."
Current contract returns for canola to November this year is up to $698 a tonne.
Mr Watt said the increase in grain crops was at the expense of dual-purpose varieties due to extra pasture and some volunteer (self-sown) crops already benefiting livestock.
"Because for the moisture profile this year people are not so hell-bent on getting everything sown early," he said.
"Once farmers have got enough cover for their livestock operation, it's been about a timely calendar sowing, probably to maximise control of weeds.
He said there had been more than usual burning of stubbles.
"But there have been multi-pronged reasons for this.
"It was the heaviest crop probably on record last year with a lot of downed crop that may or not have been completely harvested, mice and the incorporation of soil-applied herbicides giving a multi-bacterial reason for strategic burning."
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