AgVantage Commodities attended the PenAgCon Winter Crop Tour yesterday – Tuesday 18th September.

We travelled by bus out to Rowena and Cryon (135km north west of Narrabri) where we looked at some wheat trials to see how growers might be able to manipulate protein by adding nitrogen to their crops at varying stages of growth and with varying applications of granular and liquid nitrogen. The researchers hope to have some results after harvest this year, but it was clear that more research was required to reach any meaningful conclusion.

Adding nitrogen to the crop not only assists with increasing yields, but also to add protein to the grain. The challenge is being able to apply the nitrogen at opportune times that also allows the uptake of the nitrogen by the plant, or at least retaining the nitrogen in the soil for use for the next crop. Due to the yields received across the North West in the last three seasons, and some major ‘soil leaching’ flood events, the consensus of the field day was that protein in Northern NSW will be down on average, even with a dry finish. If we were to receive a good rain event (say 12mm+) growers could apply nitrogen with more confidence that the rain would allow the nitrogen to work into the soil and then be taken up by the plant to assist with yield potential and adding protein to the grain. Without a reasonable rain event, protein is forecast to be lower, albeit with higher screenings which may then lift some protein levels. We are expecting increases to ASW1 – <10% protein, APW1 – min.10.5% protein, and H2 – min. 11.5% protein grades this harvest in Northern NSW.

Crops out west around Rowena and Cryon look very good, but will require rain in the next fortnight to realise their current yield potential – this is the situation for the entire North West of NSW. Without at least 20mm of rain in the next week to 10 days (depending on temperatures), crops in northern NSW will begin to lose yield potential. As you move north to the border and in southern QLD, yield declines have already commenced.

The Liverpool Plains has also a lot of late planted winter crop which is not as desperate for rain, but will require the ideal finish to reach any potential of an average crop.

In Northern NSW, Canola will begin to be wind rowed by the end of September with harvest beginning around mid-October. Faba beans will be a similar story, closely followed by barley, and wheat harvest looking like early to mid-November.

AgVantage Commodities would like to thank Drew Penberthy from PenAgCon, Amps Research and the Northern Grower Alliance for putting on the day.

Steve Dalton