Marketing decisions wait on seasonal fortunes

Darryl and Sara Bartelen farm at Tulloona, 65 kilometres north of Moree in northern New South Wales. With Sara’s parents,

John and Sue Fitzgerald, they crop wheat, chickpeas, faba beans, barley and sorghum.

They grow canola and canary grass as opportunity crops and run 200 head of Angus and Angus-cross cattle.

Although rain has been below average, we’ve had high weed pressure across our paddocks. We’ve sprayed the cereals twice to control a mix of weeds, and sprayed the chickpeas and faba beans once, targeting grass weeds. We’ve sprayed 585 hectares of fallow country three times before seeding sorghum. We’re considering sowing 60ha of maize to test its profitability.

We’ve applied fungicide to the chickpeas, faba beans and barley, and we’re preparing to spray the chickpeas and faba beans again with fungicide and grass-selective herbicide.

Our crops have good potential, despite low plant populations due to seed-vigour issues resulting from the dry, warm conditions. After forward-selling 700 tonnes of wheat, we’re watching the markets for price-spike opportunities. Crop monitoring, machinery maintenance and preparations for the Tulloona Field Day are major areas of focus.

David and Sandra Herrmann, their son Braden and David’s parents, Ross and Merle, farm 50km south of Murray Bridge in South Australia’s Mallee region. They crop wheat, barley, canola, field peas and oaten hay.

Photo of David Herrmann and his herbicide sprayer

David Herrmann takes a break from herbicide
spraying, targeting brome grass and ryegrass,
in a crop of KaspaPBR logo field peas on his family's
property near Murray Bridge in South Australia

Despite good rains, we’ve only had to spray the cereals once, mostly targeting brome grass and broadleaf weeds. We’ve also sprayed the field peas to control grass weeds and selectively sprayed areas of high ryegrass pressure in the wheat.

We’ve finished applying sulfate of ammonia and urea across most paddocks using a trailing spreader.

Our crops are showing great potential, but spring rains and frosts will determine whether we achieve above-average yields. We’ve forward-sold more wheat, but our marketing has been cautious due to seasonal uncertainty. Machinery maintenance is ongoing and we’ve started repairing on-farm roads in readiness for harvesting hay and grain.

Natalie and Leon Bowman farm at Grass Patch, 70km north of Esperance in Western Australia’s Mallee region. They grow wheat, barley, canola and field peas, and run 80 mostly Angus cows.

We’ve had above-average rain and sprayed the cereals for broadleaf weeds in combination with 1 litre/ha of zinc sulfate and 2L/ha of manganese sulfate to correct trace element deficiencies.

We’ve applied liquid nitrogen to the barley and a third of our wheat on lighter soils. We’ve finished spraying the canola and field peas with a mix of grass-selective herbicide, nitrogen and insecticide to control large aphid numbers. We’ve applied insecticide to the barley, and we’re planning another insecticide spray in the canola and field peas, targeting diamondback grubs and budworm.

Our crops are looking the best they have in years, but emus could cause major damage. We’ve only forward-sold half of our grain because we’re wary of frosts. We’ve sold 20 Angus steers and we’re looking at installing weather stations on the spray equipment to more accurately gauge and record conditions. Machinery maintenance, labour arrangements, fencing for livestock and planting native trees are priorities.  

St John and Edwina Kent farm with their neighbours Brett and Helen McLaren on the Jimbour Plain, about 36km north-west

of Dalby on the Darling Downs in southern Queensland.

The two families crop sorghum, chickpeas, maize, mungbeans and wheat. They grow cotton as an opportunity crop and run Wagyu-cross cows.

Average rain has meant we’ve only had to spray for weeds twice across 750ha of fallow country. But we’re preparing to spray herbicides in the wheat and barley, and apply a second preventive fungicide spray to the chickpeas.

Our crops are well advanced, particularly the barley, due to the warm and mild conditions. We’ve used single discs to inject anhydrous ammonia into paddocks where we’re starting to seed sorghum, and we’re applying liquid nitrogen in our winter crops.

We’re focused on selling 800t of 2012 sorghum before forward-selling our winter grains under hectare-contract. We’ve attended a business conference and started building a fuel tanker. Maintaining machinery and on-farm roads, plus concreting a shed floor are on our to-do list.

Rod and Victoria Kennedy farm two properties: one 40km south and the other 30km west of Skipton in Victoria’s western district. They grow wheat, barley, canola and oats, and run 2000 Merinos.

We’ve had slightly above-average rain, so we’ve sprayed twice for grass and broadleaf weeds. We’ve applied zinc and copper at rates of 200 millilitres/ha on areas of our property prone to trace element deficiencies. We’ve spread 100 kilograms/ha of urea in our crops, and plan to apply another 30kg/ha of urea in the canola.

Our crops look good, but wheat is showing the best potential. After forward-selling 10 per cent of the wheat and canola, we’re delaying the rest of our marketing decisions until the seasonal outlook is clearer. After joining 2000 ewes, our sheep have started lambing. We’ve fenced areas where we’re planting 3000 native trees to reduce soil salinity and provide shelter for sheep.

We’re planning to apply fungicides on the wheat, barley and oats to control rust diseases and net blotch, and spray again for broadleaf weeds and volunteer canola. Marking lambs, machinery maintenance and a holiday are high on our agenda.


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