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2019 a season to forget

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

What a year to forget! The 2019 season delivered record low rainfall for Kimba, followed by frost, crippling grain yield prospects. Come harvest, there were some surprising yields, despite lack of moisture, but for the most part there was disappointment.

Despite the 2019 season, we need to be mindful of preparing for next year’s cropping rotation and that’s looking at fertiliser requirements, soil testing, weed control issues this season, resistance testing and seed treatments. They are all major input costs and need to be closely looked at while decision making for 2020 season. I will cover these topics later in the newsletter.

For EP AGnFERT, it’s been a big few months with our renovations and relocation to 94 Martin Terrace. You would have noticed a dramatic face lift to the business, giving it a colourful modern look. There are also a few changes inside, with 2 new offices and upgrades throughout.


We have expanded our range of Maxisafe safety equipment catering to farmers, mechanics and general handypersons. We now stock a range of gloves, respirators, dust masks, eye and ear protection, sunscreen, first aid kits to suit various workplaces and vehicles. As announced recently, we are now agents for Ahrens field bins, silos and grain sheds. An extensive range of hose, fittings, both rural and metric, threaded and poly camlock fittings. Bushman tanks have come on board with a great special on a range of poly tanks with up to $600 OFF. Bushman now have a range of Aqualine steel tanks varying from 22,500L up to 363,000L. We’ve also been appointed agents for the AWS Airbar System and Atom – Jet points and seeding boots, so call in and check out the range of products and spare parts.


So where will fertilisers be priced for the coming 2020 season? Currently the global market has a major over supply of AP fertiliser (DAP and MAP) products. The other key driver is the exchange rate around AUD $0.68 which augers well for the coming season. With these two changes we could see fertiliser pricing at 12 year lows with DAP/MAP $550 in the range with blends under the $500/t!

Urea is not so clear with our domestic market awash with high priced stock that has been carried forward due to drought and lack of post topdressing in 2019. Based on global trends and a large contract into India, which has impacted availability, Urea is also $30 to $50/t down on last year. Make sure you discuss your fertiliser options, including financing, for the 2020 season. I will keep in contact if I feel the market is reaching the bottom but looking at the current trend it may not stay there too long so we may also need to consider locking product away over the coming weeks. Give me a ring to discuss your needs for 2020.


CL Kingbale Oats – the world’s first imi (Imidazolinone) tolerant oats ideal for hay. It has good early vigour, is a tall variety and, agronomically, has a similar disease profile to Winteroo. Ideal to sow into soil with imi herbicide residues which would have been handy in 2020 but won’t be commercially available until 2021.

Studenica Vetch – a new white flower variety which has frost tolerance with soft seeded characteristics similar to Timok. Both varieties are ideal if you want to harvest for seed as they are superior over Rasina but if you only want bulk for grazing, they are all much the same.

Seraph Strand Medic (SU) – is the latest release out of the SARDI breeding programme. It is the first of the programme exhibiting SU tolerance and Powdery Mildery tolerance in the world. Seraph offers increased winter production compared to other strand medic varieties and maintains a moderate level of hard seed. Seraph also appears to thrive well on a wider variety of soil types compared with other Strand Medics. It has excellent dry matter production, exceeding both Angel and Jaguar. However, as with most Strand Medic varieties, it excels on light, free draining, sandy soils.

Vixen wheat – is an Intergrain variety and direct competitor to Scepter. It’s a high yielding AH early to mid-flowering variety, about 7 days earlier than Scepter but, based on local experience could be 10-14 days earlier. It has a disease profile similar to Scepter but (unofficially) looks like it offers better Septoria control. An excellent variety for early May sowings.

Sheriff CL Plus – is the highest yielding APW Clearfiled Plus wheat. Sheriff CL Plus P is a mid-late flowering wheat, ideally suited to late April / early May sowing. It can be sown approximately five days earlier than Scepter P. Sheriff CL Plus P offers a useful disease resistance package, including good YLS (yellow leaf spot) resistance. The variety is rated as moderately susceptible to CCN (cereal cyst nematode). Proactive management for stripe, stem and leaf rust is recommended. Sheriff CL Plus P flowering time, coupled with the Clearfield Plus trait, provides an ideal variety for early sowing as it allows flexible, post emergent weed control options with the use of label rates of Intervix, Ideal to put back on soils that have had plant back issues due to imi herbicides. Further, there are some longer season varieties in the breeding pipeline to keep an eye on which may take the place of a Trojan type.

Catapult (Pacseeds) has better grain quality and has an AH classification, meaning it could be a good option for early April sowing. It has good YLS and CCN tolerance so would be best suited for a wheat on wheat rotation.

Rockstar (Intergrain) has shown in SA to be slightly better yields than Catapult, but they all need early moisture and a late finish so not an ideal variety for your whole program but could be worth a look.


While there are political agendas at play on the GM debate, I thought I’d make a comment on how I see this technology helping our industry. I don’t see Roundup Ready canola being the answer in our district for two reasons; firstly not having reliable rainfall to grow canola consistently and, secondly, we have excellent herbicide options available without over using glyphosate, even if you were to grow canola in your rotation.

Nevertheless, I believe GM technology has the potential to benefit us all on the upper Eyre Peninsula via innovations such as frost and drought-tolerant crop varieties to help cope with our variable rainfall and climatic conditions that cost our district many millions of dollars in some seasons.

The SA government has decided keep the GM moratorium in place which is devastating news. So make sure you have your say to help lift the quality of debate around GM in SA; you ought to have the right to grow GM crops if these best suit your farming system. Improved yields will come from this technology, potentially making cropping more profitable and sustainability in the future.


As we have seen in 2019, planting legumes and even conventional cereals on Clearfield herbicide residues is a very costly exercise. With growing season rainfall well under 150mm and remembering plant backs start after the herbicides have been applied, it could be as low as 50-100mm after application to date. At least 250mm of rainfall needs to have fallen after the application of imi herbicides before the plant back restrictions take place. Options for growing legumes where there are residual herbicide issues are Hallmark lentils, being a CI tolerant variety. In a cereal phase, these options are CL wheat or CL barley for those treated paddocks. Make sure you decide on these options and rotations soon to obtain seed in case you need it.


I’ve talked to some of you about seed treatments for 2020, and the tendency to cut costs after a poor season. Seed quality and protection is one of the most important starts to your crop’s life and profit potential. Careful consideration should be given to deciding what is required. $2.60-$3.60/ha for aphid, bunt and smut control is a cost effective option to give you peace of mind. The alternative for aphid control is at least $10 /ha as a post-em application.

If you’re storing grain on farm, make sure you treat grain and infrastructure (silos and surrounds) with an insecticide to control insects ($2/tonne) prior to storage.

Remember to consider withholding periods when feeding to livestock or delivering to receival sites. Feel free to ring me on 0499 272 544 to discuss any of these issues.

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