Planting wheat into last year's wheat country is a tempting proposition for plenty of northern growers as prices continue to be attractive, but some industry experts are urging caution.
Combining heavy stubble loads with warm and wet conditions is a recipe for disease, some agronomists are saying, with problems already being detected.
Queensland sowed an estimated 829,000 hectares of wheat last year, and with Rabobank expecting Australian premium white wheat prices to trade at an average above $400 a tonne over the balance of the year, those numbers are set to grow this year.
McGregor Gourlay agronomist Marty Conroy said many growers were taking their chances due to the good price on offer.
"I wouldn't say it's common practice to do it, but there's a fair few farmers game enough (to plant wheat on wheat), because even if they get knocked 700kg a hectare, it's still pretty good money compared to what barley was shaping up to be about a month ago."
Mr Conroy said he was seeing more disease than usual in his travels through northern NSW.
"Between crown rot and yellow spot in wheat, and spot form net blotch in barley, it's pretty wild at the moment," Mr Conroy said.
He said the heavy stubble load across the majority of the grain belt was the main issue.
"There was a lot of disease around last year that went around late in the crop, so there's a lot of disease held on stubble," Mr Conroy said.
"Cooler weather slows the lifecycle of those diseases down, so usually you see a lot more rust towards the back end of the year when it starts to warm up.
"Up until the end of May, we were having uncharacteristically warm days, so it's driving those life cycles a lot quicker than what normally would be seen.
"Whenever moisture is on that leaf surface, it can allow for infection, and if you've got temperature ranges that favour those certain diseases, then you're going to get those pop up."
Mr Conroy said monitoring and timing of foliar chemicals was important.
"Monitor and use the correct timing of fungicide applications. A lot of these early infections are going to affect leaves that probably would die off early on anyway, so you've got to really make sure it's going to save yield," he said.
"You're going to get re-infections the whole way through the crop, so working out which would be the most economical way to allow you to still have yield at the back end of the season is the big thing."
With parts of the Darling Downs still too wet to plant and CQ just starting its seeding program, GRDC crop protection manager north Vicki Green said crop rotation was one of the best strategies to avoid disease.
"It's never advisable to plant wheat on wheat or barley on barley, especially with the wet conditions we've been having," Ms Green said.
"If we can avoid that, then that's obviously the preferred option. If you can go wheat into barley or barley into wheat, then that's better than barley-barley, wheat-wheat."
But if people wanted to go ahead with same crop, Ms Green said they should consider their options.
"If people are in that position, they just need to be aware of what it might mean in terms of the strategies they'll need to manage disease, because the reality is we are going to have disease this year if it stays wet like it is - it's as simple as that," she said.
"If you still have the ability to choose a more resistant variety, that absolutely pays dividends without a doubt.
"To move from a susceptible to a moderately susceptible variety makes a huge difference to the plant's ability to withstand disease."
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