Dry July – A very challenging season.
The weather in SA continues to be dominated by blocking high pressure systems with a lot of the rainfall being pushed to the south. Locally our situation is not as desperate as many other areas in SA. We are certainly a lot better than areas in the eastern states as many farmers are enduring catastrophic drought conditions. So far Maitland has received 50% of its average annual rainfall & the east coast of the peninsula is 70% below average having received only 85mm. All of the crop is under moisture stress with many areas in paddocks that haven’t germinated & are unlikely to come up. We have been getting some frost events which further stresses the crop & slows its growth. In these conditions we try and anticipate where the season is likely to go. All of the cereal crop requires nitrogen to reach its full yield potential but too much will create excess growth & too little will limit the crop yield. It’s all dependant on how much rain we get & how mild the weather is in spring. Generally, we study long range weather forecasts & combine this with information from soil moisture probes & add in a bit of gut feel. With small applications of fertiliser every four weeks we aim to match the potential crop yield. Our weed control program is progressing well & the dry conditions will reduce the likelihood of disease in the crop requiring less fungicide.
Our thoughts are with all farmers that are affected by this unseasonably dry weather & drought conditions. It’s a good time to stay in touch & look out for your friends & neighbours. Hopefully there’s rain on the way soon.
A wet August turns our season around.
Our rainfall for august was 30% above average which delivered 60 to 90 mm of rain. This rain has rescued our season locally & has given the crops a welcome drink. We have applied a bit more fertiliser & most of the crop has received an application of fungicide to keep any disease away. Some of the lentils have now reached canopy closure & are flowering & setting pods. In the coastal areas many of the cereal crops were forced up to head early due to the the dry conditions, with this rain the wheat heads should fill. The later sown crops have tillered well & are just pushing up to head now. In the last week we had some cold nights with a few frost events. With many crops at varying growth stages it will take a while to asses what frost damage may have occurred. Our harvest preparation is nearly done & we are very thankful that the season is shaping up to be a lot better than we had anticipated. Our thoughts our farmer colleagues that are experiencing shocking drought conditions. Its heartening that some support is now coming to many of those that need it.