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Wheat and weather balanced delicately

QUALITY CROP: Terry O’Halloran’s crop of Spitfire wheat has been described by local agronomist Craig Blackett as being as good as any dryland crop he’s seen in the Clifton district.
QUALITY CROP: Terry O’Halloran’s crop of Spitfire wheat has been described by local agronomist Craig Blackett as being as good as any dryland crop he’s seen in the Clifton district. Linda Mantova

WHILE rain right now will help Terry O'Halloran's wheat crop, in a few weeks it will be too late to have any positive impact.

Mr O'Halloran and his wife, Shirley, farm a total of 330 hectares of their own country and leased country in the Clifton district, and remain optimistic about the potential for this season's wheat crop.

"It needs to rain now to have any effect on this crop," Mr O'Halloran said.

Mice had the potential to do some crop damage, but it appears not to be a problem at this stage and I'm pretty sure measures won't have to be taken now.

Planted on almost a full profile of moisture on June 6, he believes the crop of Spitfire will "fill okay even with a dry finish". He is hopeful of above average yields for the newer variety of wheat planted at a rate of 53kg/hectare, on share farm country owned by Cate and Karl Hinschelwood.

"I applied 130kg/ha of sulphate of ammonia in mid-May which I think has helped the crop a lot," Mr O'Halloran said.

"The crop also received a further application of 90kg/ha of Urea at planting," he said.

With 34mm of follow-up rain falling soon after planting on June 13, the crop also received a further 42mm on July 21.

Mr O'Halloran said the crop received an application of chemical herbicide 242 at a rate of 1l/ha in August and 4 grams/ha of Ken-Met (Ally).

"We were lucky to receive about 19mm of rain on September 19, which could help to fill the wheat to maturity. I'm hoping the wheat will be ready for harvest about early November," he said.

With early signs of crop damage due to mice, Mr O'Halloran recently planned

to aerial drop poisoned grain to combat the vermin.

"I looked in the crop and there was a bit of damage from mice but I haven't seen any more evidence of it," he said.

"Mice had the potential to do some crop damage, but it appears not to be a problem at this stage and I'm pretty sure measures won't have to be taken now," he said.

Agronomist Craig Blackett, from the Raff Group at Clifton, said Mr O'Halloran's crop was as good a dryland crop as he'd seen in the Clifton district.

"It's hard to predict the tonnage, but it should yield 2.5t/ha or better," Mr Blackett said.

"What might pull it back a bit is this hot dry finish we're getting where we see evidence of some pinched grain, which lowers the weight of the grain."

Mr Blackett said he had only baited one crop so far this season for mice on the insistence of the grower.

"It surprises me that there is not more mice damage in crops due to the season," he said.

"We've been monitoring Terry's crop for the past two weeks, and haven't seen any significant increase in damage. It was definitely mice, but we didn't find enough damage to warrant baiting."

As well as cropping, Mr O'Halloran runs 120 head of Gelbvieh and Gelbvieh/Droughtmaster cross cattle on his home property, Lone Willow, as well as some leased country.

"I've been turning off a few steers, as I've had to conserve a bit of oats for my cows and calves, and the prices have been 20c-30c below this time last year," he said.

Topics:  commodities weather wheat


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