Farm Management

Autumn break benefits winter crop planting

It was a positive start to Autumn for many of the state’s primary producers with above average rainfall received across some areas of the NSW’s cropping regions.

However the coastal areas have had to deal with the deluge from ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie, which damaged pastures and crops on the north coast.

DPI Seasonal Conditions Coordinator Ian McGowen said during March 2017 rainfall was above average across more than half of NSW, particularly north eastern, northern, central, and coastal NSW.

“Rainfall across the state ranged from 0-1170 mm during March 2017,” Mr McGowen said.

“Extremely heavy rainfall across areas of the coast resulted in flooding in the north east, while areas of the far west received little to no rainfall. Rainfall was also somewhat below average across areas of the south and the north west, and some patchy falls.

“March 2017 was the second-warmest on record for NSW, following the record set in 2016. Overnight temperatures were the warmest on record, with daytime temperatures well above average in the west.”

“Overall, pasture growth was affected by the hot and dry summer conditions and remained low into March 2017, particularly across western NSW, the western Riverina, and western areas of the central west, north west, and tablelands. Growth was also low in some areas of the upper Hunter valley and the coast.

“The March 2017 rainfall stimulated the germination of annual grasses and legumes, and the growth of perennial pastures across much of NSW. Good autumn and winter growth will be dependent on warmer conditions and follow up rainfall in many areas.

“Stock condition was average to good, with supplementary feeding of breeding and younger stock necessary in some areas until pasture quantity and quality is sufficient to maintain condition.

Mr McGowen said the strong winds, heavy rainfall and flooding along the mid-north to north coast caused severe damage to pastures and crops including sugar cane and bananas, and increased the risk of root disease in soybeans.

“In other parts of the state, the March 2017 rainfall provided an early autumn break for farmers and graziers, although falls were lighter in the south and areas of the north west. The break has allowed preparation for and sowing of dual purpose cereals and canola underway,” Mr McGowen said.

“The earlier sown crops have responded well, although follow up rainfall will be necessary soon, particularly in areas of southern and north western NSW.

“Paddock preparation is also underway particularly weed control, for main season winter crop sowings. Hybrid canola seed is in short supply, with the demand for seed high. In the south, rice harvesting is commencing. Yields from late sown summer crops in northern NSW have been affected by the hot and dry conditions over summer.”

The Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall outlook for April 2017 to June 2017 indicates drier than normal conditions are likely across most of NSW, with daytime temperatures likely to be warmer than normal across the western half of NSW, areas of the far south east and far north east.

During April 2017, wetter than normal conditions are likely for much of eastern NSW and areas of the tablelands, central west and north west, with drier than normal conditions in the far west.

Many global climate models are also indicating the likelihood of drier than normal conditions during April 2017 to June 2017, with the possibility of an El Niño event occurring in late winter or spring 2017. Model accuracy is low in autumn, so this may not eventuate. However, some preparation for a potentially drier season is worthwhile.

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