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Seeds of hope on the broadacre program

Along with dawn services and marches, the Anzac Day tradition of sowing crops continued in many areas of the Goulburn Valley, and farmers were pleased to be sowing into moisture.

April 29, 2014 3:08am

Alex Graham sowing his canola crop at Dookie


Along with dawn services and marches, the Anzac Day tradition of sowing crops continued in many areas of the Goulburn Valley, and farmers were pleased to be sowing into moisture.

Sowing programs have tended to start earlier than the traditional Anzac Day start, as people sow larger areas to crops including canola.

Cosgrove’s Alex Graham began planting last Tuesday and was halfway through putting in about 200ha of Gem canola by Thursday.

He will then sow about the same area to wheat, all dryland, and hopes to be finished by late May.

Mr Graham said although the about 76mm of rain in recent weeks was ‘‘beautiful’’, it was too early to predict the season’s outcome.

The rain has allowed him to do ‘‘some good knockdown sprays’’, including on rye-grass.

Because the paddocks Mr Graham was sowing last season had been pasture — he runs 800 Merino breeding ewes — he also ran a multidisc over them.

Youanmite’s Wayne Thomas, who was also sowing canola last week, said the about 85mm of rain over three days in recent weeks had improved his family’s outlook.

‘‘You’ve got to be optimistic to put plants in and we’ve got a good start with good subsoil moisture,’’ Mr Thomas said.

Forecasts for the coming growing season, including the increased chance of an El Niño occurring, tempered his optimism.

The Bureau of Meteorology last week said the likelihood of El Niño remained high, with all climate models surveyed by the bureau now indicating El Niño is likely to occur in 2014. Six of the seven models suggest El Niño thresholds may be exceeded as early as July.

Arcadia’s Tim Sorraghan was not perturbed by predictions of a 60 per cent or better chance of El Niño conditions developing this winter, potentially bringing a dry finish for the crops.

‘‘Not in the slightest,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ve got no control over that.’’

Rain earlier in April made conditions perfect for Mr Sorraghan to decide to begin sowing canola on April 20.

His family property Rockdale has swapped dairying for crops and beef cattle.

‘‘We started the canola on Sunday and we’ll probably finish on Saturday night,’’ said Mr Sorraghan, who is putting in 324ha of the oilseed.

Then he will turn his attention to wheat.

‘‘We’ll go straight onto wheat. We’re sowing Gregory and Magenta (breeds) on 1300 acres (526ha).

‘‘We had a good start to the year with the rain recently.

‘‘There’s enough moisture to bring the crops up now so we’re not too fussed about follow-up rain; we’d like to get something within the next month.’’

VFF president Peter Tuohey also jumped the traditional Anzac Day sowing start gun, posting a photo from his paddock lit by the headlights of the tractor on Thursday night when he Tweeted:

‘‘Started sowing wheat yesterday, not too early is it? (Scout).’’

Mr Tuohey, who crops around 3000ha at Pyramid Hill, was up early on Anzac Day, asking on Twitter: ‘‘Anybody else get a frost this morning?’’

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