Rain boost, but frost hits

SOLID rainfall around the region will add much-needed weight and boost grain quality for farmers’ wheat and barley crops after a dry September began to take its toll.
While growers were thrilled with the falls, the recent discovery of devastating frost damage to pea and other legume crops in the region has dampened moods.
Balaklava farmer, Paul Daniel, was one of the unlucky ones to make the horrifying discovery recently.
“We got frosted about a fortnight ago along with a lot of others around the plains by the sounds,” he said.
After talking with local agronomists, Mr Daniel said reports filtering around the region indicate the frost has affected crops from as far north as Brinkworth, and as far south as Mallala.
“I don’t think we really know what damage has been done. We may have to wait a week or so yet,” he said.
The damage affected peas were just starting to set seed. The plant has a deceptive healthy appearance from the outside.
“I sprayed them with insecticide about a week after they had been frosted and didn’t really realise how much damage was there,” Mr Daniel said.
After a hail storm last week, he went to examine the damage.
“I checked these peas out and couldn’t believe it,” Mr Daniel said.
“They’ve really been knocked for six by the frost.”
Inside the pod were small, shrivelled up black seeds.
Mr Daniel has 70 hectares of peas in this year and estimated 80 per cent of the crop would be frosted.
“A few other early birds must have noticed it,” he said.
On the flip side, the region’s wheat and barley crops received a nice boost, most centres registering more than 20mm of rainfall in the past seven days.
“It’s been really good for our cereals” Mr Daniel said. “It would have been nice if it came a couple of weeks earlier but I’m still very happy to receive it.
“It’s just going to help grain fill on our wheat and barley.”
He was unsure if the frost had an effect on wheat or barley at this stage.
“We’ll know in the next week or so,” Mr Daniel said.
He said about 10mm fell on Tuesday night, on top of 25mm from the days before, totalling 35mm of rain out of the last five days or so.
The timing of the rain was pivotal for a number of growers around Balaklava.
“They were just starting to see some signs of moisture stress and it just came at the right time for them,” Mr Daniel said.
He believed it was important to keep things in perspective and be appreciative of having at least an average season.
“The thing to remember is last year was an exception, not the rule, so it’s looking more like average,” Mr Daniel said.
“If you start thinking you’re going to get that (2010) every year, you’re going to be in trouble.”

Regional rainfall to 9am Tuesday (mm)
Penwortham 46.4
Watervale 45.8
Kapunda 43.2
Stockport 41.2
Riverton 40.2
Auburn 37.2
Tarlee 35.4
Saddleworth 33.2
Hamley Bridge 32.6
Roseworthy 32.4
Saddleworth 31.4
Clare AWS 31.0
Hoyleton 29.8
Mallala 29.0
Pt Wakefield 22.0
Owen 21.2
Brinkworth 19.4
Two Wells 19.0
Blyth 18.8
Balaklava 17.2
Snowtown AWS 16.0
Marrabel 15.6