April 6

Agronomy Report: Hunter Valley


Feed is everywhere after the wetter spring and summer and many winter crops that were grazed or cut for forage are now covering normally dry summer fallows.

Large weeds grew so fast in some areas, they beat any attempts at spot-spraying and many growers have resorted to slashing to reduce their bulk and maintain control
before they go to seed. Remaining weeds need to be dealt with soon, to avoid them seeding and causing problems for future crops, especially harder to kill types, like
Bathurst burrs and thornapples.

Looking at our fallow management options, some growers may plough paddocks, then deal with any regrowth over the next month. Others will use a solid spray with glyphosate and other chemical spikes depending on the weeds present, then conduct a second knockdown spray if required, just before sowing. Pursehouse Rural is
here to help if you need chemical advice or on-farm inspections to determine your optimum spray mix.

Soil fertility also needs to be considered to work out what nutrients will be required for your target yields and the best fertiliser blend or combination that suits your conditions. This may mean doing some soil tests which your Pursehouse Rural agronomist can organise for you.

Once the new crops are all in the ground and growing well, crop hygiene becomes the key. Check early, as many weeds last year went to seed unnoticed under heavy crop canopies. We are already seeing wild turnip and thistles germinating in the cooler areas. And don’t forget your pastures. Too many blocks got away last year and once wetter paddocks could be accessed in early spring, thistles were too big to be fully controlled by spraying. Some blocks had to be slashed, wasting good pasture bulk to ensure weeds didn’t go to seed. Check paddocks early and before thistles reach coffee cup size, then spray with a low rate of MCPA and wetter to knock them for six, rather than waiting until later in the season and using heavier rates and expensive spikes to achieve good control.

After spraying, look at fertiliser history. Big pasture yields last year will have depleted many nutrients, especially phosphorus and sulphur. Early application of superphosphate or other fertilisers gives enough time for the product to break down in the soil, allowing nutrients to boost grass pasture and promote clovers and medics. It also lets the pastures thicken up early, covering bare patches and competing harder with any weeds that may germinate later. Consider applying some clover seed with fertiliser to improve pasture quality.


By Andrew Thomson

Agronomist – Pursehouse Rural Muswellbrook


Agronomy, Hunter, NSW, Publication, Pursehouse in the Paddock, Seasonal, Upper Hunter

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