Soil moisture helps SA grain producers to sow early

South Australian grain producers have opted to utilise their soil moisture to sow the crop early, according to a survey undertaken by Grain Producers SA (GPSA).

Almost 120 grain producers across South Australia responded to GPSA’s 2023 seeding survey with more than half indicating they were sowing prior to the traditional ANZAC Day start.

GPSA Chief Executive Officer Brad Perry said rainfall from last season and rain in the first half of this year in some cropping regions had provided a positive start.

“In our seeding survey for 2022, half of the respondents were dry sowing and hoping for the rain break to get germination moving,” he said.

“This year is much different with 70 per cent of the 119 grain producers responding to the survey stating they are sowing into wet soil, with 20 per cent still seeding into dry soil.

“At the time of this month’s survey, 51 per cent of grain producers indicated they’d started sowing prior to ANZAC Day, 37 per cent started after that time and six per cent still hadn’t started.”
Mr Perry said there were several factors driving confidence, or lack thereof, including the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) drier outlook.

“As part of the survey we asked grain producers how they were feeling about the season ahead by ranking their confidence out of 10. Not surprisingly, the average over 119 responses was six out of 10. There’s a degree of optimism about the coming season but it’s tempered by caution.

“There’s been patchy rainfall to start the 2023 growing season so grain producers in many regions are heavily relying on the moisture that is already in the ground.”

The survey showed most grain producers are sticking to the same crop mix as last season.

“When asked what they were planting differently this year to last year, 56 per cent of growers said there was no change, while 21 per cent have added wheat and barley to their rotations, 13 per cent have added oats and vetch, 12 per cent have included lentils and 11.5% are growing hay this season. Of the wheat varieties newly released in 2022-23, 42 per cent of those surveyed are planting Calibre, while six per cent are putting in Matador and four per cent are trying Brumby.

“Despite the review of tariffs on Australian barley into China, more than 65 per cent of the respondents said they won’t plant additional barley this season, while 14 per cent said they will plant more barley if the tariff is removed. Six per cent indicated they are planting more barley this season in anticipation.”