Warra district farmer Brendan Taylor has taken an early punt to plant 170 hectares of chickpeas in sub-soil moisture from rain that fell in February.
And while 200mm in February was welcome after a very dry summer, it was too late for the Taylors to plant a summer crop, but gave them a reasonable profile heading into winter.
Brendan farms with his wife Maree, and parents Jeff and Bev on Brooklea, which consists of 750 hectares of black soil flood plains 10km north of Warra.
“We had 60 centimetres sub-soil moisture and I decided on the Seamer variety chickpeas and planted eight inches (20cm) deep into the soil, into double cropped in sorghum stubble,” Brendan said.
“Chickpea really was the only option, as it is one crop you can deep sow.”
Brendan said it took up to five weeks for the chickpeas to emerge through the ground.
“Its establishment is good, and the crop is growing on the sub-soil moisture,” he said.
“What is really holding the crop together at the moment is the cold weather, as it is holding back it’s growth rate.
“Last week we experienced two minus-four degree frosts and have had way more frosts this year than previous winters,” he said.
Since planting, the crop has received 23mm of in-crop rain, and Brendan has not applied any fungicide spay due to the dry weather.
Brendan is currently looking to the skies for rain and hoping for 50mm or so.
“We will really settle for any rain, as it can rain in September, but historically August and September can be two of the driest months of the year.”
Brendan deep planted with a planter that he built himself using John Deere chisel plough tynes, bits and pieces, and buying some parts and modifying.
If Brendan gets to finish the crop he said a price of $700/tonne would traditionally be good.
“The market will definitely be fickle, and a lot can happen,” Brendan said.
“The worst thing any crop needs is to not receive any rain, followed by relentless forty degree heat – if the weather remains mild and it rains, we are in with a chance.”
If the crop receives rain in the next few weeks, a yield of 2 t/ha Brendan said could be achievable, but if it doesn’t rain then yields will slip back to 1 - 1.5 t/ha.