Queensland growers are tapping into one of the south's most popular winter crops, canola, with the state predicted to grow its biggest crop in more than a decade.
Typically planted in southern Australia - WA, SA, Victoria and NSW - due to the need for winter rain and cool temperatures, more and more northern farmers are being lured by the golden crop's high prices and weed control benefits.
ABARES forecasts 2400 hectares of the oilseed will be grown in Queensland in the 2022-23 season - the biggest plant since a record 2800 hectares were sown in 2009-10. In comparison, the total Australian crop is forecast to be about 3.4 million ha.
While the number of hectares dedicated to research versus commercial production is not clear, Queensland Country Life has confirmed at least five cash crops growing in the state at Bowenville, Goondiwindi, Toobeah, Billa Billa and Grays Gate.
At Willora, Grays Gate, near Millmerran, 90ha of canola is nearing the flowering stage. It's the first time Ross Krinke and Krinke Farms manager Steve Shorter have grown the crop, planting a Clearfield variety in April into a paddock out of barley.
Mr Shorter said their primary reason for trying the new crop was weed control.
"We're growing it for grass control, so we can spray a herbicide in-crop to tackle Feathertop Rhodes grass. It's definitely a bit different," Mr Shorter said.
Handling their agronomy is Nutrien Pittsworth agronomist Nick Paterson, who said Clearfield canola offered a broad-spectrum, one-pass, post emergent knockdown and residual control of key grass and broadleaf weeds.
Mr Paterson said the crop was sprayed with Intervix in May and was shaping up to be a great crop.
"The biomass looks really good at the moment and from what I've heard from farmers down south, it's set up well to yield 1-2t/ha hopefully," Mr Paterson said.
"The only thing that's going to be a setback up here is the heat at the end of the season - it comes in a lot quicker than down south. There's not as long of a cool period for it to flower and set pods."
In terms of marketing the crop, the closest large scale crusher is Cargill's plant at Newcastle. However, Graincorp's Goondiwindi and Boggabilla facilities accepted canola last year and will advise growers soon on their options for this year.
Australian Oilseeds Federation CEO Nick Goddard said growers were set to benefit from canola prices which were "through the roof".
"At $1000 a tonne last year and earlier this year, some growers might have locked in those sort of prices. Even at $800 to $900 a tonne, we're still 50pc above where it might have been two years ago," Mr Goddard said.
"I don't foresee any great softening in price from those sorts of levels. The Ukraine situation is putting a global shortage on some oils [sunflower], so that's increased the demand for other oils like canola."
Pioneer Seeds central and Southern Downs, Goondiwindi and Border Rivers territory sales manager Ben Thrift saw canola emerge around the Border Rivers area when he started with the company 10 years ago, but the drought and some unfavourable seasons turned growers away from the crop.
Now, they're once again looking at good gross margins by adding canola to their rotations.
"Canola is a very good rotation to mitigate disease and offer weed control options with resistant weeds as well as providing residual activity with the Clearfield technology," Mr Thrift said.
Mr Thrift said he was already getting strong demand for seed for next winter.
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