Cropping

Tough time for crops

By Country News

Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Southern Panel chair John Bennett said growers were at a pivotal point in the season when it came to deciding whether to continue with growing their crops or cutting them for hay.

Mr Bennett spoke to Country News at Numurkah’s GrainCorp site as part of the group’s annual spring tour and said the dry conditions were making it tricky for growers.

‘‘The dry is having a big effect in Victoria and it’s actually creeping south as well,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m noticing in the last couple of weeks people have had the prospects of a slightly less-than-average season.

‘‘They’ve seen their crops actually going backwards so a lot of people are actually considering cutting their crop for hay, especially with the fodder demand because the fodder reserves have been depleted over the last 12 months.’’

Mr Bennett explained why the group was travelling through the area.

‘‘The idea is that the GRDC panels job is to provide relevant research and actually capture the ideas and issues as well as representing farmers,’’ he said.

‘‘So for us it’s engaging with farmers in their own paddock, especially with panel members coming from the Eyre Peninsula and Tasmania.

‘‘So it’s a good thing to come to the north and see what issues actually affect farmers in the north-east.

‘‘It’s a learning experience really. We’ve come to listen, we have come to see whether our investments are actually working, to see what we can do better, and what are the current issues?

‘‘I think we are right in that pivotal period at the moment where we’ve got frost, we’ve got lack of moisture and crops are actually going backwards and I think we are in that pivotal period where a lot of crop might turn into hay and yields will go back quite dramatically too.

‘‘So it’s really a difficult time to estimate crop yields.’’

Mr Bennett said the current dry conditions reminded him of recent years where he lived.

‘‘We’ve had a number of these years in my part of the world in western Victoria,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve had 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2015, so it’s nothing new.

‘‘I would certainly draw a similarity with a number of those years we’ve had in the last decade.’’

The group also visited University of Melbourne’s Dookie Campus as part of the spring tour.