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Best start for southern Queensland winter crops in years

By Lydia Burton, Monday May 18, 2020 - 11:16 EST
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Farmers are enjoying their best start to winter in years, taking the opportunity to plant wheat, barley and chickpeas. - ABC

An agronomist in southern Queensland says some of his farmers are planting their first crop in almost four years.

Cameron Derbidge, who services the Goondiwindi area, said although they were hoping for more, the rainfall farmers received had in summer put enough moisture in the ground for them to plant a winter crop.

He said after years of drought and failed crops there was a lot more optimism in the air this year.

"We started off with some good rain in February and March and then the tap did turn off, but we did have a bit of moisture to get sowing," he said.

"I've got three or four clients that haven't put a seed in the ground since 2016.

"This year a couple of those clients have already planted some wheat.

"It's definitely a lot better start then what we've had in the previous years — that's for sure.

"We just have a bit better moisture [in the ground] .... and listening to meteorologists and climatologists they're talking it up to be wet at the end of May and for Winter to have above average rain, so that's promising.

"It's lined up a bit the same as 2016, which was really probably a record winter crop in a lot of parts of the eastern seaboard."

Mr Derbidge looks after farms within a 200 kilometre radius of Goondiwindi and said just less than half in that area had planted winter crops.

"At this stage I've got about 40 per cent of the area that I look after sown into relatively good moisture or irrigated up," he said.

"This year is a bit different to previous years — at this stage wheat and barley is predominately what's getting planted.

"I'm looking at about 41 per cent of my area planted to wheat and 37 per cent to barley."

"The reason for that is the previous three winters we've had very minimal rain and [we haven't] been able grow crops so we haven't retained any stubble on a lot of country, so wheat and barley are definitely a very important piece to get some cover back on that country.

"I would usually have 20 to 30 per cent of my area planted to chickpeas but this year it is about 5 per cent of my area because [they don't leave much ground cover] and as I said, we're trying to get stubble back on the country."


© ABC 2020

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