Dubbo and district farmers set to plant summer crops for stock feed

TUCKER TIME : Cattle are drawn to feed on a drought-stricken property near Dubbo during  August 2018 . Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
TUCKER TIME : Cattle are drawn to feed on a drought-stricken property near Dubbo during August 2018 . Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Recurring rain in the past week has Dubbo and district farmers considering whether to gamble on planting summer crops to feed stock.

Dubbo agronomist Glenn Shepherd, of Imag Consulting, reports of soil profiles on properties in the district being “so dry” despite the rain.

On Wednesday, as a thunderstorm delivered more rain to Dubbo, he predicted farmers’ need for feed would override the “high risk” of planting in drought conditions.

The agronomist said there had not been enough rain “to get excited about summer cropping”.

“The soil profile is so dry and we need a lot more to fill it up,” he said.

“But having said that there will be much more than normal summer grain and grazing crops planted because people need feed for their stock.

“With the high grain prices and reduced winter crop areas, there will be a number of people considering planting summer crops.”

Mr Shepherd said rain this October would “fill grain” in winter crops that had not been grazed.

“There’s really not many non-cereal crops left,” he said.

“Very little canola was planted and and most of it has been grazed.”

The agronomist said planting of cereal crops including wheat was “well down” with stock consuming “a lot of it”.

“We just didn’t get enough early season rain to get bulk in the crop,” Mr Shepherd said.

“Not only is grain harvest unlikely but also hay cutting because there is not the bulk in the crops.”

Mr Shepherd reported of some paddocks starting to turn green while others were taking their time.

“Anyone who has good perennial pastures, like lucerne and summer grass pastures, will see them responding quickly,” he said. 

“But annual pastures are going to be a bit slower.

“A lot of paddocks have been grazed quite heavily too so they are going to be slow to respond.”

He said most of the rain was “quite steady” and had “soaked in”. “There hasn’t been a lot of run-off in many places,” the agronomist said.

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