Doubt over canola tonnage | My Machinery
CASE Agriculture
Doubt over canola tonnage

In spite of the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) being confident of Australia producing a national canola crop that either breaks or comes very close to record levels, doubts are starting to emerge about the canola plant in parts of all the major canola producing states. Nick Goddard, executive director of the AOF, said the organisation was likely to lift its production estimates when its June report is issued later this week. “There’s been rain in some key areas, we’ve got a more definitive idea of what’s going on.” He said the dry conditions were an issue in many areas, but said farmers would not be looking to resow canola paddocks that have had a slow start just as yet. “We think the rain in late May and early June in some key areas will mean growers will stick with canola crops.” The AOF May estimate was for 2.965 million tonnes of canola, compared to last year’s record of 3.185mt. Canola expert Steve Marcroft, Marcroft Grains Pathology, Horsham, in Victoria, said it was still possible to have a big production year, but crops would rely on a good spring. “Last year there was sufficient moisture over much of the east coast, so when the season cut out in the spring, there was still moisture to access. “This year, a dry finish will be very damaging for yields.” He said the AOF had got it right in terms of the large acreage it forecast, but he said yield was very difficult to forecast. In particular, he said the late start would expose the crop to potential high temperatures in crucial stages of its development. “The crops will be flowering a little later now, so there is that risk of a really hot September day burning off all the plants’ flowers.” Mr Goddard said there was a risk in certain areas, but said the AOF worked off historical data in terms of rainfall. He also said there were parts of every state that had received rain and were looking good. Both Dr Marcroft and Mr Goddard agreed the dry conditions were hurting non-traditional canola producing areas, such as the Victorian Mallee, where there has been a large plant this year after good results in the past couple of years, combined with the buoyant prices on offer at present. Dr Marcroft did not think farmers would be looking at resowing in low rainfall zones that had not received rain just as yet. “The potential is still there, however, it is more and more dependent on a good spring – it can be done, 2005 in the Wimmera there was a late start, but a perfect finish mean there were good yields.” He said there were a couple of factors against growers resowing. “Firstly, with cereal prices so depressed, its going to be hard to grow a profitable cereal crop sowing so late. “Secondly, providing we get the biomass there, farmers can cut canola for a high quality hay product, so they do have another option if the season turns bad.” He said farmers did not need to be too concerned about patchy germination leading to uneven maturity within the crop. “There will be plants at different maturity stages, but you generally find it evens out – the plant keeps growing while it can.” In the mid-north of Western Australia’s grainbelt, Calingiri farmer and Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) board member Leon Bradley said there was still a large percentage of canola crops that had not yet germinated. “There hasn’t been a very good germination, its been a tough season so far.” He said there had been some rain closer to the coast, especially in the past fortnight, but added that it was already later than the optimum for canola emergence. “At this time last year I’d already sprayed my canola twice.”

Share this:

CASE Agriculture