A soaking start to August has set Cowra’s rural sector up for good season but farmers are being warned to take preventative disease action.
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The first week in August delivered anywhere between 50 and 70mm of rain in the Cowra district over three rainfall events providing a magnificent turnaround in the season after two dry months.
“Pastorally that will give us a guaranteed Spring and really put the wheat and canola crops, for that matter any cropping system back on deck,” Elders agronomist Peter Watt said of the rain.
He is however warning farmers to take action to prevent disease affecting yields.
“With rain comes increased disease incidence, one particular disease which we’ve become more focused on managing over the last couple of years is Sclerotinia Stem Rot and we now do have appropriate fungicides which can be applied.”
Mr Watt said farmers need to treat canola crops at about the 10 to 15 per cent flowering stage before the disease sets in.
“This fungicide has to be preventative, you can’t put it on after the disease,” he said.
“It is very important about preventing the disease getting into the crop.
Sclerotinia is not a new problem for Cowra district farmers but Mr Watt said “in the past I guess we just accepted the damage that would happen.
“Some industry work and certainly some chemical company work has indicated that responses can be up to 30 per cent yield and on average up to 10 to 15 per cent yield response to spraying for Sclerotinia.
“The decision (to spray) is based around how many rainfall events you get during the flowering period.
“We have to protect the crop at the start of flowering because petals and flowers fall into the stem and are the infection source and then they feed the infection to get the stem rot.
“The plant basically rots through the stem, destroying yield.
“We would not have considered this strategy up until about one week to 10 days ago.
“You need a wet soil surface to complete the disease triangle.
“To get the spores to release you need a saturated soil surface for 10 to 12 days.”
Mr Watt said Canowindra is slightly back on rain but “the whole area is blessed when you hear stories from further north”.
“North of Dubbo is a fair headache, we are very lucky to have the conditions we have.
“This area, will skate through very nicely for the next two to three weeks but as the moisture challenge comes we’ll be looking for another rain to make this season fulfil its potential.
Rain is forecast again later this week but Mr Watt said we only need average rain from now and we’ll get home with a fairly good season.
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