Changing climate forces rethink of Aussie farming timetable

Anzac Day – 25 April – is not only the day when Australians honour their soldiers, for the country’s wheat farmers it is also the the time to start sowing their winter crop. But, thanks to climate change, that may have to change, Australia’s peak science research organisation CSIRO says.

..a team of our scientists in the Agriculture team are now recommending sowing earlier; any time from early April onward.
They’ve been trialling early sowing around southern Australia, and the results were staggering. By including early sown wheat in cropping programs, yield was increased by an average 13-47 per cent across all regions.

The CSIRO says that rainfall is critical for the establishment of fast growing wheat varieties and, with the changing climate, autumn rains have been declining. By Anzac Day, the optimal conditions may have passed.

But sowing earlier could cause a whole new set of problems. By shifting sowing earlier, it would mean the fast-growing wheat flowers just as frosts begin to hit. The CSIRO suggests combining staggered sowing from earlier in April and mixing mid- to fast maturing strains.

The paper on the tricky timing to optimise yields can be found here.

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