Preparation will be key to a successful cropping season for Riverina mixed farmer Ian Pursehouse.
"The wet has been a challenge for us and is a huge challenge for a large area of NSW," he said.
"I think it is going to be the biggest challenge again this year.
"Whether it's getting a crop in, too wet throughout the growing season or even another wet harvest, it's certainly something we've got to prepare for."
Mr Pursehouse and his wife Amy crop about 1200 hectares at Fairview, south of West Wyalong, in the Riverina.
They grow dryland winter cereal and break crops, and have a small flock of sheep - 150 first cross ewes and lambs for prime lamb production - after heavily destocking during the 2017-19 drought.
Soil types are half red loam and half heavier clay, and pH varies from 4-4.5 on some leased ground that's part of a liming program to bring it up to 5.0-6.0 to match the rest of the farm.
Average rainfall is 430mm, but it's been extremely variable during the past five years, from as little as 243mm in 2018 and 2019 to 709mm in 2020 and 836mm in 2021.
Despite quality downgrades caused by more than 120mm of rain falling during harvest, Mr Pursehouse said last year was the best season they'd ever had, thanks to higher yields and higher prices.
Long term average yields from canola are 1.2t/ha, wheat 2.65t/ha and barley almost 3t/ha.
Last year's crops were more than double that, with the canola yielding 3t/ha, wheat 5.7t/ha and the barley 6.2t/ha.
"Last year was phenomenal, a season we thought could never happen," Mr Pursehouse said.
"It's helped speed up the recovery from drought.
"But in saying that, input prices this year have been almost double last year, so that's hurting.
"The positive side is really good commodity prices this year as well at the moment.
"The outlook's very good, and the season's looking good too.
"We're too wet at the moment, but we're in a fortunate position - we're not as wet as some."
The rotation at Fairview is generally canola, followed by wheat then barley.
This year's crops include four varieties of wheat - Beckom, Raider, LongReach Spitfire and a small amount of RockStar for bulking up - along with InVigor T 4510, HyTTec Trifecta and HyTTec Trident canola.
Mr Pursehouse said he would normally grow La Trobe barley, but opted for a bigger area of canola instead.
Delays in the delivery of canola seed pushed the start of sowing back to April 18 and rain caused further stoppages in late May.
As a result, Mr Pursehouse swapped out half the 600ha of Beckom and replaced it with Spitfire, an early to mid-maturing variety more suitable for later planting.
Despite the wet summer, Mr Pursehouse kept on top of summer weeds and applied a double knock of Crucial at 1.5L/ha followed by Gramoxone 250 at 2L/ha across all paddocks.
Much of the area earmarked for wheat also received Sakura 850 at 118g/ha before sowing to provide pre-emergent control of grass weeds, such as ryegrass and toad rush.
Using a Horwood Bagshaw Scaribar with knife point and press wheels, the Spitfire wheat was sown at a seeding rate of 60kg/ha with monoammonium phosphate at 80kg/ha on 275mm row spacings.
"Soil testing every paddock allowed us to maximise our rates where we could, and minimise them where we could, as a way to offset the high price of inputs," he said.
The wheat will probably be top dressed at least once with urea at 100kg/ha, with a second application of 150kg/ha if the season allows.
Mr Pursehouse has planned for one in-crop spray of LVE-Paradigm to control broadleaf weeds such as Paterson's curse, saffron thistle and wild radish.
He will monitor for pests and diseases but said the Spitfire was unlikely to need any treatments.
The canola is cabbaging up nicely, and earlier sown paddocks of wheat are now up to the four-to-five leaf stage and 'looking very good'.
"A lot has been emerging over the last week or so and is at one leaf," he said.
"There's also about 50-100ha still to come through."
All going well, Mr Pursehouse said he expected the Spitfire wheat would be ready for harvest in late November, which is when marketing decisions will be made based on pricing.
"At the moment it's $430 odd, which is a pretty good price," he said.
"If it's around that price, we'll be tempted to sell it straight away.
"But, we generally store half on farm and deliver the rest to GrainCorp at Mirrool, Temora and Ardlethan or a local storage facility and keep our options open as to when we need to sell."
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