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Early Canola Sowing In Progress

02 May 2011

AUSTRALIA - Victorian grain growers are set to give support to a large sowing of canola.

It is a crop that can be sown early and growers are seeding now in the southern Mallee, Wimmera, northern plains and areas of the Riverina. The early canola sowing areas in the Riverina include Deniliquin, Lockhart and Jerilderie, according to Weekly Times Now.

Although more growers wanted to take advantage of the good sowing conditions over Easter, many paddocks were still too wet for tractors to pull heavy sowing rigs. When big tractors start to slip they make a mess. And canola seed beds need to be at least as good as those used for the cereals.

In the 1970s, grain growers in northwest NSW made a lot of money by switching from premium wheat to cotton growing. Though some dry-land cotton was profitable, the industry was established on irrigated crops and this remains today.

Back in the '70s, prime wheat growers put a lot of work into land before it was laid out to cotton. This included deep ripping, laser levelling and correctly positioning channels for taking the water from the pumping sites to the cotton bays. Cotton was worth about $500 a bale.

There are parallels with the northern cotton crop, and the southern canola crop. Both commodities require extensive investment in capital works, such as land levelling.

Gypsum is a popular pre-sowing soil ameliorant for Wimmera and Western District crops. Heavy fertiliser applications are required and usually split to suit key growth stages.

As with cotton, insect control is vital and weed growth eliminated to reduce competition. Last season, ABARES estimated the NSW average canola yield at two tonnes a hectare and the Government is forecasting a 35 per cent canola area increase this year.

Support is also strong in Victoria and the southeast of South Australia. Each year canola goes a little further north into the Mallee. Forward prices of $600 a tonne are on offer.

Last year's crop stubbles have had to be reduced before sowing and stubble burning is in progress.

Rain in the Western District before Easter has impeded growers from getting good, clean paddock burns.

TheCropSite News Desk



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