Sowing Winter Crops Early

Winter crops are an important part of farming, but have you ever considered the impact that sowing times can have on crop yields and profitability?

By sowing winter crops as early as possible within the sowing window, farmers benefit from longer growing seasons, improved crop establishment, and better use of available moisture.

Winter Crops

Barley
Barley is a popular winter crop in NSW, and is well-suited to the cooler, drier regions of the state. It’s often grown in rotation with wheat and canola, as it helps to break disease and pest cycles in the soil. It has a relatively short growing period, with a germination time of 1-3 days. Barley is used for a variety of purposes, including animal feed, brewing, and human consumption.

Recommended Sowing Times: Page 43 of DPI Winter Crop Variety Sowing Guide
Canola
Canola is Australia’s major oilseed crop. It’s well-suited to cooler temperatures and higher rainfall and is often grown in the southern and central regions of NSW. Canola is most often used for producing vegetable oil for cooking and biofuel.

Recommended Sowing Times: Page 84 of DPI Winter Crop Variety Sowing Guide
Field Peas
Field peas are mainly grown in the central and southern regions of NSW. They are often grown in rotation with cereal crops to help improve soil fertility and reduce disease and pest pressure. Field peas are used for both animal feed and human consumption.

Recommended Sowing Times: Page 136 of DPI Winter Crop Variety Sowing Guide
Lupins
Lupins are mainly grown in the central and southern regions of the state. They are well-suited to low rainfall and acidic soils and can help to improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen. Lupins are used as animal feed and can be processed into food ingredients such as flour and protein isolates.

Recommended Sowing Times: Page 160 of DPI Winter Crop Variety Sowing Guide
Oats
Oats are well-suited to the cooler, wetter regions of NSW. They are often grown as a forage crop for livestock but can also be used for human consumption when processed into food products such as oatmeal and oat flour. Oats can help to improve soil health by suppressing weed growth and reducing erosion.

Recommended Sowing Times: Page 62 of DPI Winter Crop Variety Sowing Guide
Triticale
Triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye. It is well suited to the cooler, drier regions of NSW, and is often grown as a forage crop for livestock or to be used as feed grain. Triticale can improve soil health by suppressing weed growth and reducing erosion, and is tolerant to some plant diseases that affect other cereal crops.

Recommended Sowing Times: Page 74 of DPI Winter Crop Variety Sowing Guide
Wheat
Wheat is a staple winter crop in NSW and is well-suited to the state’s diverse range of growing conditions. It is often grown in rotation with other crops, and has several uses, including human consumption, animal feed, and processing into flour for baking. Wheat is one of the state’s most valuable agricultural commodities.

Recommended Sowing Times: Page 17 of DPI Winter Crop Variety Sowing Guide

The Benefits of Sowing Early

Sowing winter crops early can have several benefits, which include:

  • Longer growing season: Sowing winter crops early can provide a longer growing season before cold weather sets in, allowing crops more time to mature and develop.
  • Increased yield potential: A longer growing season canlead to higher yields, as crops have more time to gain stronger root systems and healthier plants, which can lead to higher yields and better-quality crops.
  • Better use of available moisture: In areas with limited rainfall, sowing winter crops early can help to take advantage of available moisture, as crops will be able to access it before it is lost to evaporation or runoff.
  • Improved crop establishment: Early sowing can provide crops with more time to establish strong root systems before the cold, and potentially wet, weather sets in. The extended time also allows crops to further extend their roots, accessing moisture and nutrients from deeper in the soil.
  • Improved weed control: With good management techniques, early sowing of winter crops can help improve weed control as crops will be able to compete more effectively with weeds and suppress their growth.

However, when sowing early you should be sure to:

  • Use good management techniques: To minimise the risk of weeds spreading through your crop, use good management techniques to help maintain the overall quality of your crop. These can include fallowing, management of spring seed set, spraying, and seed treatments.
  • Research your crop: Sowing too early can result in an increased susceptibility to pests or diseases and poor germination if the weather remains warm for too long. To minimise this risk, ensure you research your particular crop variety before sowing to understand the prime time to plant.

Summary

Sowing your winter crops early can provide many benefits to the growing cycle. These can include longer growing seasons, increased yield potential, better use of available moisture, improved crop establishment, and better weed control. It is important to note that every variety of seed is different so researching your crop before planting can ensure you understand the best time to sow your seed.

References

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