Imtrader Ed.16 – Rural Drought Continues

Dry Paddock
Another dry fallow paddock just north of Moree.

It’s been a continuing trend of dry weather across rural New South Wales which is affecting most winter cropping regions again this season. The central and northern cropping regions are experiencing the brunt of the extensive drought with less than half of the winter cropping area planted to date. Southern regions have been more fortunate with some farms capitalising on intermittent rain bands and rolling storms that heavn’t made it to the north of the state. It seems the further north you travel, the less evidence of rain.

In the central and north it’s really been the isolated localised storm here and there that have enabled any planting at all. Here in the central to north, most farmers still have large blocks of fallow land sitting idle just waiting and hoping for enough rain to fill their soil profile to plant their now late winter crop.

Paddock Wet
A paddock just west of Goondiwindi welcoming 35 mm of rain.

Local agronomists are saying there doesn’t seem to be a safe area to plant anywhere at the moment, only a few lucky spots in the region. Some farms are still needing upwards of 50 mm minimum to provide enough confidence to plant and avoid the false starts which have occurred over the last two seasons.

There are a large number of farmers who haven’t planted for two years now, so to not plant for a third year in a row is really playing on growers’ minds and pockets.

From January to June, rainfall is down across three major growing regions, Dubbo, Narrabri and Moree. It almost seems that the further north you go the more the rain is missing against the average.

Rainfall Comparison Graph
2019 Rainfall Comparison to Long Term Average

At Moree they have only received 27% of their long term average, while at Dubbo they have managed 57% (at time of writing).

Sowing dry is now often just too much of a gamble after losing out in previous seasons. If the required winter rain doesn’t come soon enough for cereals or chickpeas, growers will start looking at their summer cropping options in the hope that enough rain may fall to sow their sorghum, cotton or beans.

Agricultural retailers are also feeling the squeeze from the lack of activity on farms with sales of their seed, pre-emergent herbicides and fertiliser way down. I see warehouse staff and forklifts laying idle at a lot of rural stores I visit when they are normally busy loading customers’ trucks with all the gear they need to plant and get going.

Breeza Herbicide Trial
Breeza NSW pre-emergent herbicide trial site with AMPS Agribusiness.

I have been busy locating sites in NSW for Imtrade’s pre-emergent herbicide trials, recently establishing a trial working alongside AMPS Agribusiness at a site in Breeza. Here I am testing the efficacy of different propyzamide formulations such as Imtrade Edge.

Working with agronomists at McGregor Gourlay Goondiwindi, I have also  established a trial site at Toobeah comparing a range of Imtrade pre-emergent efficacies against others on the market.

Chris Poletto – Imtrade Trial Agronomist
chris.poletto@imtrade.com.au