Chance on canola

Matt Curtis.MERBEIN South farmer Matt Curtis is hoping his canola crops live up to potential, in what has been an unusual year for the Millewa.
Nanjing Night Net

“We had 500mm between November and March, in an area where we normally get 250mm annual rainfall.”

He said the stored moisture had given crops a valuable kick during the year, but there have also been drawbacks.

“The crops on the sandhills don’t appear to have done as well as some years, and we think there have been a fair lot of nutrients leached out of the sandier soils.”

He said this year was an unusual one in recent times in that he expected the crop on the heavier ground to outdo the lighter ground.

Generally, crops in recent times have been better in lighter areas.

Canola is not a traditional Millewa crop, but Mr Curtis said the subsoil moisture encouraged many growers to try it.

And he is heartened by what he sees thus far.

“It looks like we can grow it when the moisture is there – and at the current prices, it could be a good earner.”

He said it had been tough cropping in the Millewa region, which was largely opened up after World War I, with several drought-induced wipe-outs in recent years.

“You need some rain with the Belah country to grow a crop.”

However, this year he is happy with crop potential.

“We’ve been lucky, we had some rain at the end of September that was just what the doctor ordered, as paddocks dried out.

“You head out further west, where they didn’t get the rain and things don’t look as good.”

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