Frosty times: September crop update for wheat, barley & chickpeas

It has been a season of ups and downs for us. We had good rain over summer but a dry April and May led to marginal planting conditions. We planted dry and were blessed with some rain in May and June which led to good establishment. We had 23mm for July and just 6mm for August. Crops have been coming along well relying on stored moisture. The mild winter meant crops we madly flowering by late August.

Moree Temperature 2013
Moree temperature 2013 (June-August)

On the 21st of August Moree Aero recorded -1.1°C followed by -0.5 and 0°C. The effect on the barley is marginal and it seems to be filling well. The chickpeas lost all their flowers but they have begun to reflower and are just now starting to set their first pods. Yield potential in the peas has been reduced but should hopefully still see a reasonable crop. The wheat has been most affected with stem frost leading to ring barking. Other tillers that are not ring barked have the head turning yellow and aborting seed set. Again other tillers seem to be OK and should produce seed. The extent of the damage is varied with higher areas less impacted. We will know more in the coming weeks and the yield map will tell the true extent.

We are now looking for a decent fall of rain the keep the crops going through to harvest. Below are a few pictures I took this morning.

Barley near & chickpeas far
Commander barley Sept 2013
Commander barley Sept 2013
Pippa in chickpeas
Pippa in chickpeas
Stem frost wheat 2013
Stem frost wheat 2013
Stem frost wheat 2013
Stem frost wheat 2013 closeup shot
Sunvale wheat September 2013
Elevated Sunvale wheat September 2013

2013 Wheat, Barley & Chickpeas emerge

Our winter plant operation has finished for another year. We came into May with good sub-soil moisture but dry in the top 10cm. The wheat and barley was planted shallow into the dry soil. A 12mm fall of rain mid-May was enough to wet up the soil and germinate the seed. Following the rain we planted chickpeas into moisture. After finishing planting the chickpeas we had another 10mm.

We are trialling Spitfire and Suntop wheat this winter, alongside our usual Sunvale. Below are some comparisons so far.

Spitfire & Sunvale Wheat
Spitfire & Sunvale Wheat
Suntop & Spitfire Wheat
Suntop & Spitfire Wheat
Sunvale Wheat
Sunvale Wheat

And a couple pictures of our chickpeas and malt barley.

Hat-Trick Chickpeas
Hat-Trick Chickpeas
Commander Barley
Commander Barley

Summer 2012/2013: Weeds & Wind

We are now well into April and you can start to feel a chill in the air. I was updating my phone this morning which means backing up all my photos which I have taken over the last few months. Its been an interesting summer with I’ll attempt to cover briefly with my poor quality phone photos. We also grew some sorghum this summer, but that is covered in other posts.

Cracks in barley stubbleThe 2012 winter crop harvest went well with good standing crops and little rain during the operation. We were left with big stubble loads and very dry, cracked soil.

Spraying at nightWe did not seem to get much of a break after harvest and we were straight into our summer weed control spraying program. This particular night the bugs were bad.


The spraying continued. Each storm that came through even if only a few mm would bring up more weeds. Thankfully we are able to cover large areas with a boom width of 36m.Paraquat

This year we applied more paraquat than ever to combat our rising glyphosate resistance issues. Combining several modes of action we were able to control most problem weeds and prevent them from seeding.

Barnyard grass

This photo shows where we had lightly disced a headland to to level it out. Unfortunately, due to burying surface seed and disturbing our residual chemical, this promoted an extremely high germination of barnyard grass.

Storm Damage

Storm Damage 2

We had a couple wild storms this summer. They did not bring a lot of rain but managed to do plenty of damage.

Gil Gil CreekIt took a cyclone off the east coast, but eventually we did get the rain to fill our soil profile and set us up for a 2013 winter crop.

Urea Application

By February we had started applying urea for our winter crop. We used a disc seeder so there was minimal soil disturbance and low fuel consumption.

Then it rained again – we did more spraying…

I am looking forward to the 2013 winter growing season. Good luck to everyone and God bless!

Disc Planter Photo Log

In 2009 we wanted to try out planting with a disc planter with minimum outlay. Up until this stage all planting was done with a narrow point on a tyne. The advantages of using a disc machine is there is less soil disturbance, high planting speeds, better seed placement and lower fuel usage. Down side is there is higher service requirements and conditions need to be just right.

We purchased what seemed to be an old home made shielded sprayer. We removed all the spraying bits so we had an empty bar, painted it and added four support wheels. We then attached 16 Excel Single Disc units to the bar on a 0.66m spacing with the idea to apply urea and plant chickpeas.

The units were a success and in 2010 we bought a complete Excel planter bar and units on a 0.333m spacing which we used to plant 100% of our winter crop in 2011 and 2012.

Full Season Barley Photo Log

This photo log shows ‘Binalong’ barley – a feed variety. With no planting rain we opted to moisture seek which involves planting reasonably deep into the soil profile to chase moisture to establish our crop. As you can see in the photos we did achieve a reasonable establishment. Follow up rain ensured the barley went on the be a success yielding around 4t/ha despite looking like it is low to the ground. The final photo in the series shows harvest activity.

In 2012 we grew our first malt barley crop. See photos here and here.

Full Season Wheat Photo Log

Today I’m looking back on the 2010 wheat crop. The variety was ‘Sunvale’. Yields and protein were excellent but we were unable to harvest all our crop before summer storms left much of it lying on the ground and weather damaged.

View pictures on the 2012 wheat harvest here.

Full Season Chickpeas Photo Log

Here is another photo log from a couple years ago. Chickpeas, once introduced as a break crop from a crop rotation dominated by cereals (i.e. wheat and barley) is now just as important and can be just as profitable as wheat and barley. Although chickpea varieties are getting better all the time they are still susceptible to water logging and disease due to too much rain. The variety used in this season was ‘Jimbour’. We have now switched to ‘Hat-Trick’.

The season was set up to be a bumper crop with great crop establishment and moisture profile but then it just kept on raining and we ended up with a lot of plant and not many peas in the pods due to water logging, disease and wind. Enjoy viewing some of the hardships of farming.

The video is me harvesting chickpeas, but not this particular crop.