Fleurieu Peninsula farmers buoyed by rains after a dry winter

IN BETTER SHAPE: Langhorne Creek grain grower Brett Phillips inspects his bean crop, which has bounced back after a dry winter.
IN BETTER SHAPE: Langhorne Creek grain grower Brett Phillips inspects his bean crop, which has bounced back after a dry winter.

LANGHORNE CREEK – Fleurieu grain growers are more optimistic about their crops, with August bringing much-needed rain on the back of a dry winter.

For Langhorne Creek farmer Brett Phillips, his crops are in good shape, as long as they can ride out September without any frost events.

Brett, who crops 1000 hectares, is a fourth generation of Phillips’ to grow crops at Langhorne Creek.

A good Anzac Day rain set the farm up for seeding, but when only 16mm fell in June things were not looking great.

“In June I was thinking this was going to be a below-average season,” Brett said.

“It wasn’t until August that it turned around, so things started to look much better in a year that we were not very optimistic.”

Brett recorded 48mm in July and 105mm in August.

“We were moving forward with fertilising cautiously, because the bureau wasn’t forecasting a great season.”

This season Brett looked to alternative crops to increase margins, with wheat, barley, canola, beans, peas, lupins and some lentils across almost 1000 hectares.

“If we get another couple of rain events into the end of October that could set us up really well,” Brett said.

“And if it stays mild then it should be looking okay.

“But we’re still at the whims of the weather and it all depends on frost.

“There is forecast to be a lot of cold air, so we might still get some cold nights.

“We don’t mind a mild spring, but we don’t want any frosty nights.”

Brett said he grew more beans this season and trialled lentils.

Despite conditions turning around, the season might still be hit by grain prices.

Wheat prices peaked at $300/tonne earlier in the year, but had now dropped to $240/tonne because of trends in Europe, particularly Russia.

“They’re lower quality grains, so if we can grow some high quality grains, with high protein, we could overcome that,” Brett said.

In comparison, the Eyre Peninsula’s winter was one of the driest in the state, while the South East experienced good winter rains.