Latest News

25Nov

Summer Agronomy Update

Words by Craig Rodgers, Group Manager On-Farm Sales

 

Spring has once again delivered a variety of weather conditions. After a warmer than usual July and August period, both September and October had mixed weather. Soil temperature struggled to increase, and inconsistent sunshine hours resulted in crops and pasture being slow to establish during this period. Soil conditions did however remain favourable, meaning minimal delays in sowing crops with less pressure on contractors. We have also seen regular rainfall, so moisture levels have remained good even on the back of some hot days and Nor-west winds in early November.

The moisture reserves have meant irrigators stayed fairly dormant in early spring but as temperatures increased through October most were turned on. The regular rainfall has meant water reserves are looking reasonable at this early stage. The days are becoming longer and the increase in sunshine hours will very quickly give us an indication as to the reserves available through the early summer. It becomes very important to regularly check moisture levels in the soil.

Pasture

Pasture growth was slow in early spring as soil temperatures barely got above 10 degrees. Earlier sown new pasture paddocks struggled to establish and compete with weeds, and early weed sprays were slow to reach full effect due to these lower soil temperatures. Regular rainfall is helping establishment with this set to continue following the recent rains. While most grasses are bred to produce good yields in suitable conditions it has become obvious that not all grasses suit all farmers or the management style you may have on yours. Every farm is different, especially seasonally, and demand and management should be what you discuss when looking at options for re-grassing. It takes 12 months to establish a new pasture and good management through this period will improve persistence, especially through the first summer. The most important grazing is the first one and should occur once plants cannot be pulled out of the ground. This helps tillering and growth and enables light to reach clover that can often establish slower in spring sown pasture. Always keep pastures relatively short (less than 3500kg/DM) which helps them tiller, but try not to graze them too low as that reduces leaf and stem material which in turn affects re-growth and plant reserves. 

Competition

With such rapid growing conditions at the moment, we are also seeing the fast establishment of weeds in all types of crops and new pasture. Due to the warmer soil temperatures they have become very aggressive giving unwanted competition to these new crops. Regular monitoring and spraying of any competition in pasture and crops gives it the best possible chance to establish and reach yield potential at a later date. These applications of chemicals should go on at the earliest possible dates, as larger weeds become harder to kill and control. It is also a good time of year to tidy up fence lines, laneways and yard areas, problem weeds will start seeding through this period spreading viable seeds across pasture and cropping areas.

Cereals and Grain

Grain crops have established well and there has been limited disease pressure to date, but this can change very quickly through December, so monitor regularly and a prevention spray can often be more practical than fighting a disease outbreak. Cereal crops look very even this year and while very slow through the late winter period they have had accelerated growth through November. Some cereal crops that are going to be taken for silage are looking very good and just need some good sunshine hours to help with the seed fill stage. At the time of writing, the grain price was softening with very little demand this spring due to strong pasture growth. This can also be driven by extra grain becoming available as farmers look to clear silos and storage areas pre-harvest, with it sounding as if there plenty of both wheat and barley available. At this time of year, it is always good to check storage facilities for leaks. We have seen an upswing in contaminated silos and storage areas due to moisture which has brought on pest infestations and mouldy and musty grain which has seen some loads turned around at destination. This is often a hard job to organise and puts a lot of pressure on freight companies, grain reps and end users, and especially tough for the cropping farmer who does not like to see grain returning to farm due to contamination.

Kale

Once again, we have seen an increase in kale sowings with (at time of writing) there being multiple varieties unavailable and sold out. While fodder beet has been popular over the last few years due to increased yields over smaller areas, it has been great to see an increase in discussion on kale, and the flexibility it brings to farming systems, including the ease of feeding. The increase in yields in kale over the last few years has been impressive especially given the minimal inputs. Establishment has become easier with the increase in farmers using coated seed for insect protection and the use of pre-emerge weed sprays. We are also seeing a wider range of sowing dates from early October to mid – January and all producing similar yields come the winter, and some good yields also across dryland crops. The ease of management through the growing season and at grazing time has initiated a spike in sales over the last three years.

Fodder Beet

Early sown fodder beet crops were very slow establishing this year and have endured weed pressure due to the lower soil temperature in early spring. We have seen good establishment of later sown crops; however, it is noticeable with a couple of cold weather snaps that a reduction in soil temperature of only a couple of degrees does slow the growth of fodder beet. This can result in future weed strikes once the temperatures warm again and with the warmer soil temperatures we have seen some aggressive weed growth. A good weed spray programme remains important, and very important not to wait too long for your next weed spray application. A delay of 2 or 3 days can make larger weeds that bit harder to kill, and while this puts extra pressure on contractors and spray trucks, look to book them earlier and work in closely with your local rep or crop specialist. There has been less discussion this year around varieties than in previous years. Another reduction in available options has helped and the inconsistency of trial data and feed competitions around tonnage has left most farmers unsure on what is exactly the right cultivar for their farm. If you are not getting a suitable yield, or the variety you are growing is not quite fitting your demand, then discuss this with your local rep or advisor. There are plenty of options available now and a small change in cultivar which could relate to dry matter potential, percentage of bulb out of the ground, or even growing and grazing characteristics could help your farming system.

 

About the Author

${CreateUser.DisplayName}

Related

Primary sector in positive place

Primary sector in positive place

With the farming year winding down, crops harvested, livestock sold, cows dried off and fruit picked...

Read More >
New Zealand Rural Waste Minimisation Project

New Zealand Rural Waste Minimisation Project

The New Zealand Rural Waste Minimisation Project finds ways for rural communities to better manage o...

Read More >
Fashion off the Farm

Fashion off the Farm

Held in the Ashburton Ruralco Gift and Homeware’s store on Wednesday 2 October, the Ruralco Ladies ...

Read More >
Blooming beautiful

Blooming beautiful

What started as a plan to diversify their property, is now a blooming cottage industry for a Mid Can...

Read More >
COVID-19 Update - 23/04/20

COVID-19 Update - 23/04/20

Ruralco update for COVID-19 Alert Level 3

Read More >
Buy now, split the payments with your Ruralco Card

Buy now, split the payments with your Ruralco Card

Split the payment over three months for larger purchases with Dan Cosgrove, Ensol & FMC.Sim...

Read More >
Account Selector