CANOLA looks set to be the major casualty of the damaging series of frosts in NSW.
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With a run of consecutive nights below zero, culminating in temperatures as low as -5 in late August all crops have been impacted by the freezing temperatures, but analysts fear canola was at a particularly vulnerable stage.
“Canola has been really badly hit just due to its growth stage when the frosts hit,” said James Maxwell, Australian Crop Forecasters (ACF).
“Many canola crops through NSW were flowering or in early podding stages at the time of the frosts and they dropped both pods and flowers,” he said.
“It could be quite severe in terms of yield impact.”
Neil Fettell, research advisor at Central West Farming Systems based in Condobolin in NSW’s Central West, said canola would be relying on its secondary branches for yield.
“You can definitely see some main stem damage as a result of the frost and the early pods have come down.”
Mr Maxwell said overall, Australian canola production was unlikely to suffer too much of a yield reduction on previous estimates due to the healthy state of the crop in Victoria, also a major canola producer.
“It won’t entirely cancel out the losses in NSW, but it will certainly mitigate the situation if the Victorian crop continues on its current track,” he said.
The situation is only slightly healthier in the pulse sector.
Mr Maxwell raised the alarm for the national chickpea crop, in spite of conventional wisdom that chickpeas are relatively frost tolerant at this stage of the year due to their ability to reflower.
“The chickpeas aren’t much better than canola, a lot of flowers dropped after the frost.”
“They do have a small edge because they can reflower and recover, but that is obviously dependent on the conditions and there is no moisture this year for them to do this.”
With this in mind, he forecast a national chickpea crop below a million tonnes – a massive year on year drop.
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