Recent rains herald start to seeding

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Farmhand Mave O'Brien and Kendenup farmer Andrew Slade.
Camera IconFarmhand Mave O'Brien and Kendenup farmer Andrew Slade. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Seeding has started for many croppers in the Great Southern — and those who haven’t started are preparing to in the coming days.

After the driest year on record for parts of the region, the new year is off to a better start for some.

Scattered rainfall in recent weeks means many farmers have started sowing crops, with some sub-soil moisture present.

Last year, even croppers on the usually wet South Coast were planting their crops dry, with germination following weeks later.

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Andrew Slade in Kendenup started seeding his 2700ha cropping program on Monday.

His farm received 25mm-55mm of rain in thunderstorms three weeks ago. He is hoping his crops will germinate months earlier than last year.

“There is enough moisture for what we are currently seeding to germinate on but the topsoil is drying out rapidly so we will just have to monitor soil moisture and see what happens,” he said.

“If we get some rain in the next few days we will put an entire canola program in over the next week, then wait for a second weed germination before starting on the cereals.

“Everything was dry-sown last year. which was a first for us — we ended up with staggered germinations right up until late June.

“The early rains this year have given us the opportunity for good weed knock-downs and earlier-than-normal planting.”

Mr Slade said he would crop 1400ha of canola, 600ha of wheat and 700ha of barley.

He said it was important to take opportunities to get seed into the ground when moisture levels were right.

“There is good subsoil moisture there, and it’s starting to dry out a bit on top, but the forecast looks pretty promising, so there is enough to start seeding now,” he said.

“If it gets germinated now, there is plenty of subsoil moisture there, so we should be all right for another three or four weeks.

“Generally we like to get it all in early so we can maximise yield giving the crops the full growing season available to reach potential.”

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