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Dry seeding pushes on: GPA

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GPA 2024 season update #1

Grain Producers Australia (GPA), Media Release, 20 May 2024

Seeding is underway for most Australian grain producers with many in parts of western and southern Australia reducing their canola plantings as they continue to wait for a proper season break in the absence of any rain.

The longer growing season required by canola had many growers pinning their hopes on an April break according to Grain Producers Australia Chair Barry Large. 

But the lack of rain has many returning or storing seed and increasing cereal plantings.

“Western Australia is unseasonably dry and South Australia is the same,” he said.

“Our expectations to grow canola has many growers awaiting an April break and this isn’t when most areas are getting the rain these days.”

Meanwhile, Queensland and northern New South Wales growers have had ample rain and are verging on too wet in some areas that are still harvesting summer crops such as sorghum.

Tasmanian conditions also remain quite dry, with growers struggling for moisture to germinate grazing crops and dry sowing in the hopes of a May season break in the coming weeks. 

Mr Large said growers without a season break were seeding dry and could do with the confidence boost before the end of May.

As seeding and topic of rainfall fuel the conversations of grain producers, Grain Producers Australia’s representatives provide an update on conditions from around the country.

Conditions are dry across much of Western Australia and while some growers have had rains in recent weeks, there is little sub-soil moisture to support crop growth according to WA Grains Group Chair and Coorow grower Alastair Falconer. “Everyone is extremely concerned about costs this year and the fact that average prices and average yields will not create enough in returns to break even,” he said.

Rain for some parts of Western Australia has renewed hopes for a good start to the season according to WAFarmers Grains Section President and Williams grower Mark Fowler. “Most people across the grain belt would’ve started sowing in early April, which is what most WA farmers do these days,” he said. “At the time, we were getting hot days and the weather bureau was saying it might not rain until June, so there was a fair bit of anxiety at the time.” 

Queensland sorghum growers such as AgForce Grains President, Grain Producers Australia northern region director and Warra grower Brendan Taylor are frustrated watching sorghum crops decline in quality after Easter rains stalled their harvest. “Sorghum farmers are still finishing their harvest and the longer our sorghum crops are sitting out there, the more we’re losing in terms of quality and returns,” he said.

Victorian grain growers are feeling “positive” for the season ahead according to Victorian Farmers Federation Grains Commitee Chair and Berriwillock Grower Craig Henderson. “There is a good profile across most of Victoria and for a majority of us, seeding is well on the way,” he said.

Conditions in the central west to northern New South Wales are well-placed this seeding, but farmers in southern Riverina, such as NSWFarmers Grains Commitee Chair and Brothelsby grower Justin Everitt, need rain to help their dry sown crops to germinate. “We’re a bit drier than the rest of the Riverina and there’s been a lot of rain across most of the state,” he said.

Grain Producers SA Chief Executive Officer Brad Perry said widespread dry conditions have many South Australian growers dry sowing their cropping program in the hopes they can capture a timely break. “Any rain we’ve had so far has been very patchy, but overall conditions are dry,” he said. 

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