Rain not enough for planting

Rainfall not enough for Biloela farmer to plant winter crops


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Ray and Phillip Wilkie, Emohruo, Biloela have decided not to plant any winter crops this year.

Ray and Phillip Wilkie, Emohruo, Biloela have decided not to plant any winter crops this year.

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Rainfall of 30 millimetres across the Wilkie family’s dryland farming country over the past week won’t be enough to plant any winter crops.

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Rainfall of 30 millimetres across the Wilkie family’s dryland farming country over the past week won’t be enough to plant any winter crops.

Situated north west of Biloela in central Queensland, Phillip, Ray and Stuart Wilkie’s aggregation of properties haven’t been planted to any winter crops due to ongoing dry weather conditions.

“We had a look at our soil profile and it’s still to dry,” Ray Wilkie said.

“I think we are going to leave our dryland farming country fallow over winter now and wait to plant a spring crop.”

The Wilkie family have 1300 hectares of dryland farming and 170 hectares of flood irrigation country.

Ray Wilkie's farming country near Biloela does not have an adequate moisture profile to plant any winter crops this year.

Ray Wilkie's farming country near Biloela does not have an adequate moisture profile to plant any winter crops this year.

Mr Wilkie said the combination of a late winter planting and only sub-soil moisture is to great a risk for sowing winter crops.

“Our winter season in the Callide Valley has been more dry than usual because we normally get rainfall in May enabling us to plant a winter crop,” he said.

“From what I’ve seen around there’s few winter crops planted across the region.”

The last good rainfall at the Wilkie family’s property was during February, but they’ve only received eight millimetres of rain since then during April and May, until this week’s rainfall event.

“We took advantage of a good spring and reasonable summer season to double crop our farming country with summer crops, so we’re not overly concerned about being unable to plant any winter crops at this stage,” Mr Wilkie said.

He noted the family would not normally double plant summer crops but good spring rain motivated their decision to take advantage of an adequate soil moisture profile.

“We have got paddocks ready to go for winter but it’s getting too late now for planting a winter crop,” he said.

The Wilkie family were planning to sow GrangeR barley crops for feed grade if their soil moisture profile was adequate during winter.

Some of the Wilkie family's dryland cropping country near Biloela.

Some of the Wilkie family's dryland cropping country near Biloela.

Over last summer, they planted sorghum and Mung beans during the second week of December 2017 with 4.5 tonne per hectare yield at harvest time for the sorghum and around 2 tonne per hectare for their Mung beans crop.

“We also planted another late summer sorghum crop as well, which achieved 4.1 tonne per hectare yield at harvest,” Mr Wilkie said.

“The decision to double crop during the past summer has paid-off especially with solid commodity prices.”

The Wilkie family received $350-a-tonne on-farm for their 2017/18 sorghum cereal grain.

Price jump spurs cow sell-off

Brett Hatton at his family's Dawesdene cattle property near Biloela.

Brett Hatton at his family's Dawesdene cattle property near Biloela.

The scattered rainfall around the Eidsvold to Biloela regions and a slight jump in prime cattle prices have motivated the Hatton family to sell cull cows.

With light rainfall over the past two days, Brett Hatton, Dareen, Eidsvold made a decision to off load surplus breeders.

“I believe this light rainfall has pushed processor’s prices up a bit this week and we’ve decided to take the improved money,” Mr Hatton said.  

Dry weather conditions have prevailed across the Hatton family’s 10 grazing properties that stretch from Mundubbera to Biloela.

The Hatton family have decided to sell cull breeder cows this week.

The Hatton family have decided to sell cull breeder cows this week.

The Hatton family run around 6000 head of breeder cows across their cattle operation.

“It’s been a warmer than normal winter in this region and this wet weather should spur some good pasture growth,” he said.

The Hatton family’s cattle properties further north towards Biloela have been drier than their Eidsvold country.

“Overall, cattle prices have come back from record highs but prices are still at solid levels compared to two years ago,” Mr Hatton said.

“It’s a busy time of year in this region with many cattle producers weaning and pregnancy testing their cows, so I’d expect a potential increase of cattle, especially cows, to come onto the market over the next couple of weeks.”

The Hatton family’s Santahat Santa Gertrudis Stud is also donating six commercial beef steers for this year’s Queensland Country Life ‘Win a Pen of Santa Steers’ competition.

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