"Never had so much stubble in the paddock". That's the common comment in the north as previous large winter crops leave a stubble issue for sowing time.
Some farmers have reverted to oldstyle burns to get it in hand.
For others it's just something they have to work with, many were were on top of the issue by cutting low during the last harvest. Keeping ground cover at all times has been others' motto.
The major issue in the north is it's too wet to even get back into paddocks, while those attempting to plant find the stubble and the wet soil is turning paddocks into a big mash, clogging up seeders.
Moree Nutrien agronomist Garry Onus says sowing is a real and present headache for many farmers. A sign of the times is the green sheen on paddocks - it's not emergent wheat - it's the moss growing in the paddock. Even some grain planted has blown and will have to be replanted.
There's also the threat of the wet spreading fungal diseases such as yellow rot on wheat and the pressure later on obtaining fungicides with what is expected to be late high demand.
"Some fellows did burn their cereal stubble from last year," Mr Onus said. "In some ways they are in front and have been able to get into paddocks and prepare and sow."
"Many are just waiting for things to dry out and get in. The stubble may cause disease issues with yellow rot. The problem is the stubble and wet soils bogging up the machinery. The machines are just not cutting through the wet stubble. Many are just making mud brick houses out of straw."
Closer to Narrabri things had been drier and planting was getting away.
There had also been patchy establishment with a lot of seed blowing. "The seed just turns to goo in the wet paddock. Its very stressful for the growers at the moment." Contractors were also feeling the pinch of the wet paddocks with sowing programs delayed.
Obtaining fungicide was not a problem at the moment but it could be if the demand grows in a few months, Mr Onus said.
Award-winning cropper Glenn Fernance, Courallie Park, near Bellata said he knew of many farmers who had burnt their high loads of stubble.
Mr Fernance said he was cropping on more sloping country and wanted to keep his ground cover as much as possible. Sowing had not been as much a problem for him, the discs successfully breaking through the stubble layers.
"I did say to someone the other day that's the most stubble we've ever had in that wheat paddock," he said.
He hadn't had a problem sowing wheat into the high amount of stubble, but he had to increase sowing rates for canola to get the seed in adequately.
The Fernances grew sorghum and cotton over the summer.
He was planting a lot of wheat on wheat as many in the district were doing, having spurned chickpeas this year.
journalist and author
journalist and author
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