Just as the 2021 winter crop harvest was gearing up to be a cracker, growers were faced with an assortment of challenges. November saw the area receive the highest rainfall for the year, making harvest and summer crop planting extremely difficult for many. For some, the wet weather pulled harvest to a stop for a period of time and has continued to drag on well into the early months of 2022.
The wet conditions also proved challenging for growers when a large portion of grain was left weather damaged. If growers are looking to retain and store this grain, be mindful of the moisture content when looking at storage options. It is important to ensure the moisture content is not over 12-12.5% as the risk of mould production and insect damage is greater during storage. Weather damaged seed has a higher risk of poor germination percentages
and reduced vigour. If looking to use weather damaged seed for winter crop planting, a laboratory seed test should be undertaken to determine the germination percentage.
Winter crop planting is fast approaching therefore careful paddock planning and preparation needs to be put into place to ensure plant health and yield potential is maximised. A few things that should be taken into consideration include soil and stubble-borne diseases, fallow management, and soil health.
If we can take anything from the last two winter’s, it’s that disease management in our winter crops is essential and early diagnosis is key. Paddock selection and careful crop rotation is a crucial tool in the management of soil-borne and stubble-borne diseases. Growers should aim to avoid planting wheat on wheat and should continually assess paddocks throughout the season for crown rot and root-lesion nematode levels paying particular attention to basal browning. If you have a paddock of concern, please contact your local Pursehouse Rural Agronomist, who will undertake testing to help determine what diseases you could be dealing with.
Weeds have been progressing rapidly given the ideal growing conditions. Timely fallow sprays are essential to ensure moisture and nutrient preservation is maximised. This summer we saw large populations of Fleabane and Windmill Grass in fallows, and with the wet conditions comes a small window for control. In many cases, a double knock strategy is used to improve control. When considering if a double knock strategy may be used, consider the weed species present, the interval time and the water rate needed.
Soil health also needs to be considered prior to sowing winter crops. Soil testing is a valuable tool in providing growers with information that will allow them to make sound fertiliser decisions. The results from these tests will allow growers to diagnose key issues relating to their soil, such as giving reason to areas of poor growth, as well as providing the opportunity for growers to assess their current fertiliser program and make changes, if required, to better suit their soil and to ensure target yields are achieved.
By Paige Tilse
Agronomist Pursehouse Rural
Gunnedah – 0418 154 362