Late rain slows CQ planting windows

Late rain slows CQ planting windows

Like many grain growers in Queensland, Brendon and Jody Swaffer, Bungarra, Clermont, are waiting for summer rain.

Like many grain growers in Queensland, Brendon and Jody Swaffer, Bungarra, Clermont, are waiting for summer rain.


After a disappointing winter crop, many grain producers are now hoping their luck will change in time for a summer plant.


Their southern counterparts may be looking to early-plant summer crops, but for grain growers in central Queensland the planting window appears to be getting later.

For Brendon and Jody Swaffer, Bungarra, Clermont, summer rain has been slower to make an appearance in recent years.

"Our normal time has become late I suppose. Normal time for planting sorghum up here is probably any time in January to early February; the last week of December would be considered early," Mr Swaffer said.

"But the last five or six years, our sorghum has all been planted late, towards the end of January and into February. Our rains have definitely gotten later, especially with this dry spell we've been going through."

The changing weather patterns have meant they are now relying on cyclonic events.

Mr Swaffer said the 800 hectares of sorghum that he planted last summer had been looking very sick at the end of March, until Cyclone Trevor came through.

"We had five inches on it and it went from probably a crop you wouldn't harvest, to something that was above average," he said.

"That gave us a good profile of moisture for our winter crop, and we planted 1600ha of wheat and a similar amount of chickpeas."

The Swaffers planted Strzelecki and Flanker variety wheat from April 30 to May 10, and then went straight into planting Kyabra and Drummond chickpeas, which they finished planting in late May.

"We had 30mm in June, which was good it got the secondaries going. Then we had another 30mm fall in early July and that was it," Mr Swaffer said.

"Come harvest time, the wheat averaged 1.9 tonne to the hectare, and the peas went about 1.3t/ha.

"They were a little bit disappointing because we had a lot of frost. The peas on the best country, which is our lowest country, it got frosted time and time again so they were only yielding 0.5t to 1.2t/ha and they should have been going two tonne, so consequently our average really wasn't what I was hoping it would be."

Mr Swaffer said they had been lucky this year compared to last, when late frosts and a lack of remaining moisture meant the crop couldn't recover.

"This year, at least, they put 0.5t/acre on after the frost, we obviously had a bit of moisture left to do that," he said.

"Our yields were average and then you get to the marketing side of things, the prices were not as good as last year, but still 30 or 40 per cent above average prices. So we had an above average year although it doesn't feel like it."

Heading into this summer, Mr Swaffer said another cyclone like Trevor would be appreciated.

"We've been extremely lucky that we've had those couple of cyclonic events the last few years. It saved our bacon this year and has given us opportunities."


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