August 25

Agronomy Report: Hunter Valley


When growers want rain, growers get rain! The challenge from May to July has been accessing paddocks to prepare them for sowing then getting crop or pasture into the ground before the next rain event.

Blocks sprayed out and sown early have shown impressive forage yields. Later prepared blocks have suffered holdups with spraying, sowing and respraying with some still too wet to get over. In other cases, continued showers and ponded water has killed patches in some paddocks, especially in young lucerne. The rain has been great for reducing mice numbers, with a big reduction in activity and damage. Many growers are now easing up on baiting programmes.

Once paddocks dry out enough to drive over, there will be plenty of activity, with late in-crop weed and fungicide sprays to protect feed quality and yield. Urea can be spread to optimise crop and pasture biomass. Mixed pastures can still be fertilised with superphosphate or biological nutrient blends to boost yields. On larger areas that remain wet, there may be an increased interest in aerial applications.

Looking forward, those with stock to feed will need to start thinking about summer forage crops. There may be increased plantings to cover those with unsown winter blocks. With high demand, some seed lines will be short, so get in early. Good fertiliser planning based on target yields will also ensure best results.

Fallows with unsprayed weeds during the wet need checking and spraying to simplify sowing once the weather warms up. If the cold disappears early, we may see an increased sowing of millet in Oct/Nov as ground temps hit 14C and rising, followed by forage sorghum hybrids in Nov/ Dec. With no in-crop grass sprays available, a weed-free seedbed is critical for millet to get a good start and achieve a vigorous canopy.

Forage sorghum has more options, with pre-emergent and post emergent grass and broadleaf chemicals available. In early Dec, other growers may opt for cowpeas, providing summer groundcover, grazing and an alternate hay option. Avoid any blocks with residual chemical history to ensure good results. Sub-tropical grass pastures will be another choice for those looking for a longer term option, from late November onwards. These can produce an enormous body of feed throughout the summer if sown into grass-free blocks with sufficient spring rain to establish well.

For any summer crop management, seed or fertiliser enquiries, please contact your local Pursehouse Agronomist. You can find your local Pursehouse Rural on our branch locations page at

By Andrew Thomson – Agronomist – Pursehouse Rural Muswellbrook 0428 400 202


Agronomy, Hunter Valley, new south wales

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