Wet winter sowing options
While some producers may have been lucky and received ideal rainfall in April and May to help along grazing crops and canola, many will be looking at resowing large areas. This is due to crops struggling with emergence issues or have been submerged with seedlings drowned. Conditions may still be too wet for some farmers, raising concerns of sowing crops outside their sowing windows.
I wrote an article last year on Management options for unsown paddocks in August of 2021 and here we are again in June, with a similar situation facing growers after an incredibly wet Autumn. As I said in the previous article, while the wet conditions are not ideal, it beats the alternative!
The farming systems group, Grain Orana Alliance (GOA) have put together the results from the past two years of canola trials in the Central West (CW) looking at delayed sowing of canola crops and when is too late for canola. While a yield penalty for late sowing is generally observed regardless of variety, the results are encouraging for late sown canola with respectable yields of 2-3 T/ha achieved with end of May/early June sowing in 2020 and 2021.
The research also revealed that lower plant population at an earlier sowing outperformed higher plant numbers with a later planting. This may be useful to consider if contemplating resowing paddocks with reduced emergence. More information about these trials including variety performance can be found here.
Pulse crops are particularly sensitive to timing of sowing. Crops like lupins and faba beans are unsuited to a late sowing with an April/early May sowing recommended. Moisture and temperature stress in spring are the biggest factors affecting yield, so a late sowing is best avoided with these crops.
Chickpeas are an option into June however, you will run into the same problems of temperature and moisture stress in spring. Grey soils (i.e., high moisture storing soil types) can mitigate some of this risk with plantings into the second week of June possible, but with yield reductions for later sown crops. This is as opposed to red soil types which will likely have a lower water holding capacity.
Field pea is one of the few crops that can perform from a later sowing. They can be sown into June with good results however, high yields are depended on a soft spring. For this reason, the growing zones are split into eastern and western NSW (with the zones roughly divided along the Newell Highway) with the eastern zone recommended sowing into late June and the western zone cutting out in the first week of June.
The first few weeks of June sees the end of the recommended sowing dates for wheat in the CW plains. Varieties like Corack, Impala and Mace can be sown in June, but this is later than ideal. Varieties like Condo, Mustang, Spitfire and Vixen have late May/June as their ideal sowing timing with growers being recommended up to the third week of June before yield penalties are drastic.
Interestingly, some oat varieties can be sown in the slopes and plains well into June if targeting grain only (no grazing). Varieties like Durack, Yarran, Mitika and Bilby are your best options for a late sowing. Triticale can also be an option through June with KM10, Fusion and Bison the later varieties.
Barley is traditionally seen as the late crop option for producers in the CW. Varieties like Compass, and Rosalind can be sown into the third week of June while farmers planning late June sowings should be utilising varieties like Hindmarsh, La Trobe, Spartacus CL and Beast.
One of the biggest determining factors of crop yield is spring rainfall. Producers can be somewhat confident with late sown crops this year as the rainfall outlook for the next few months continues to look good. The Bureau of Meteorology’s climate outlook for June to August rainfall is around 75-80% likely of exceeding median rainfall for the majority of NSW.
While sowing crop into June and July is sometimes less than ideal, with the seasonal outlook and high grain prices it looks like it could be a better year than others to do so in 2022. Late sowing provides a chance to get multiple weed emergence events before completing a knockdown spray and is allowing the soil profile to fill.
To find out more information about your sowing options please talk to your local Ag Advisory team member. Alternatively drop into one of our offices to pick up your copy of the DPI’s Winter Crop Variety Sowing Guide 2022 or see a digital version here.
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