Curious weather wreaks havoc on this year's cereal yield

ONCE again the season has not turned out well for many of us on the northern side of the border, with many winter cereal grain crops looking like they will be yielding less than 3.0 tonne per hectare.

From paddocks I have personally seen here in south Queensland, there will be plenty of 10 bag crops (in the old language) with frost, disease, nematodes and dry weather all taking a share of the action.

One issue that most of us never think of until the harvest is in full swing is seed for next year.

I would like to point out a few rules for ending up with quality seed for next winter from this harvest in 2012.

Purity of variety is the first choice to consider.

It is not practical to have a lot of stray wheat plant varieties like Wylie in your Strzelecki seed crop, with it's poor record with diseases like Stripe rust and Yellow spot.

Yellow spot infections (depending on severity and length of time affecting a crop) can reduce grain size.

So why is that important?

Many of us believe that the larger seed size does tend to produce more vigorous seedlings after initial germination.

So purity is important, not just from a marketing angle, but for the nutrition of your soil.

Yes, here I go again with more revelations on our declining soil nutrition stakes.

It is a balance of N, P and K, that is the best mix for a quality seed crop.

Too much nitrogen can make assessment difficult, however with phosphorous being absolutely essential for enhancing seed maturity and potassium needed for seed development, you have two of the major drivers for producing a quality seed crop.

Add in both sulphur and calcium availability and this will further improve your ability of producing a higher quality article.

I mentioned phosphorous as a mighty useful element and for some time now it is becoming more apparent that we should also consider testing our cereal grain for phosphorous levels prior to planting.

We approach harvesting this crop no differently to our commercial crop.

Physiological maturity in wheat is about 35% moisture, however trying to harvest and store at this level is ridiculous and this grain moisture level needs to paddock reduce to about 14% or a bit more for a header to have the ability to do a good job.

Of course before the phone starts ringing, yes, our best storage moisture is below 11% and, yes, big potential storms do have a bearing on harvesting times.

Topics:  commodities grains paul mcintosh weather

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