Friday, July 8, 2022

Wheat paddocks to paddy fields

Rice looked like a viable crop option for Central and Mid-Canterbury arable farmers after the storm of mid-June. Southbridge arable farmer Matt McEvedy measured 220mm of rain over a seven-day period and had water lying in places he had never seen it before.

Of greatest concern were his wheat crops. He said he needed to get the water off the wheat paddocks within 48 hours, otherwise they would be at risk of rotting.

He had spent much of that week using a shovel to dig trenches to try to get the water away from the paddocks, but with such heavy continual rainfall on already saturated soils it was thankless task.

When Country-Wide spoke to him on the Monday following the storm he says he was heartened at how quickly the water was disappearing.

The June deluge in many parts of the country will have washed nitrogen through the soil profile.

Barley is possibly more susceptible to water-logging than wheat and speaking from past experience, Rob says cereal crops that have been water-logged coming out of wet winters are backward … some of their roots will have been killed off and they don’t tiller as much.

If the roots have been pruned due to the wet, they can’t access nitrogen as easily and older leaves will turn yellowish.

After the large rainfall in South Canterbury last August some crops looked hollowed out with old leaves dying off. While it is possible to re-drill parts of a paddock, this can be problematic because these areas will require separate management.

With so much water washing through the soil during the mid-June storm, Rob says N would have moved through the soil profile and he recommends arable growers think about taking deep N soil tests in early to mid-August to help make a decision about an early spring application of N.

Sulphur is also prone to leaching and therefore the first N application could be best in the form of ammonium sulphate. 

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