Pastures produced big yields through winter and spring and stock have struggled to keep on top of feed in some areas. Many blocks were hit with big germinations of St John’s Wort and Purpletop. Large control efforts by ground and air have reduced seed set for the coming year. Re-check and control patches this coming spring to keep these weeds manageable going forward.
With plenty of feed about in spring, forage sorghum plantings were down as growers made the most of existing supplies of fresh grass. Continued rain and a mild summer meant weeds had a good run too. Many blocks needed a couple of sprays to keep them under control, using Starane for bigger burrs, Amicide for wireweed and fleabane using larger droplet sizes to reduce spray drift, and slashing if winds were unfavourable or where weeds had grown too large for optimal chemical control.
Good stubble cover on some blocks has assisted moisture conservation, while in other areas the topsoil has dried down and growers will be looking for good showers to freshen up weeds and improve fallow spray efficacy or to moisten soils to aid cultivation. Pro-active fallow management now, with early spraying or strategic cultivation will mean that if good rains arrive, crops and pastures can be sown quickly and painlessly. This avoids delayed sowing and missed feed production opportunities if fallows aren’t ready and big rains set in right through until mid-winter.
Following the high forage yields of the last 6 months, soil testing is important to determine fertiliser rates to replace nutrients and ensure optimal yields. Many factors have increased fertiliser prices in recent months, but as we approach sowing, nitrogen finally appears to be easing slightly. If prices do stay high, we may see more growers sow with starter fertiliser then topdress with Urea later in-crop, instead of applying nitrogen pre-sowing. If chemical phosphate prices stay high, there may be more interest in slow-release biological phosphate fertilisers that are now comparable in price.
If good rain comes early, many will sow early oats, with some improved new varieties to consider. As the temperatures cool, annual and Italian ryegrass plantings will commence, followed by forage barley. Some growers may also consider sowing their forage cereals in combination with ryegrass to provide quick winter cereal bulk, followed by solid ryegrass production right through until early summer, if good rainfall continues later in the season. For anyqueries on seed varieties, herbicide plans, soil testing, fertilisers orcrop rotation strategies, please contact your local Pursehouse Rural Agronomist.
By Andrew Thomson
Agronomist Pursehouse Rural
Muswellbrook – 0428 400 202