The Break
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The Break is a monthly update of latest seasonal climate forecasts and implications for Victorian grain growers
Curated by chris sounness
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The Fiver

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The Fiver

By Chris Sounness (DPI, Horsham)

 

Hi all welcome to the special iPad focus issue of the fiver.

But first a few thought points.
At The Break we are always thinking and reviewing what we present and how we present the newsletter. We survey, we ask a lot and we get much-appreciated unsolicited feedback.
Some changes we think are a good idea, others occur through circumstance around needing to be able to ensure accessibility guidelines are met.

Anyway, over this year we are looking at revamping The Break and hoping to be able still deliver seasonal climate information which has been finessed, to add context of what it means as a grain grower or adviser. Hopefully some info will be updated more regularly where appropriate, we will get better at curating the various pieces of information presented and you get the info by email or by some of the social media channels such as twitter.

This means The Fiver is likely to be revamped and maybe done in a different way. Still pretty certain it will involve the best links written with tremendous wit!

Enough of the waffle, what about the iPad edition?

As most of you were very good leading up to Christmas, Santa delivered. You either got an iPad or an Android tablet. This month I thought I would list a few of the weather apps for iPad. Next month an android focus.

The five best weather apps for iPad

Pocket Weather Australia. I still think it stacks up as number one for the way it is laid out and having the BoM feed as the data source
https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/pocket-weather-au/id546266910?mt=8

Weatherzone and Elders apps are both very good and if you use either of those I understand, as with all these things, personal preference plays its part.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/weatherzone/id409060691?mt=8  
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/elders-weather/id471794656?mt=8  

Rain? Is excellent if you want access to only the radar. That is all it does, but it does it well
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rain-aus-radar/id373298738?mt=8


Rain Alarm XL I have found very reliable over the past few months in indicating that rain is on its way. It normally sends an alarm to your iPad about 20 mins before it rains. Been very accurate
https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/rainalarm-xl/id443935841?mt=8


Now a couple of these look beautiful but just not sure where they get their information from and it might be a case of looks rather functionality.

Haze is an app which does the current weather very well and uses a bauble feel. Groovy almost
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/haze/id594476963?mt=8


Conditions is a stripped down forecast only provides crisp today temp and synopsis plus five day outlook.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/conditions-beautiful-weather/id543298335?mt=8


Weathercube, as promoted this week in the app store is too clever by half and while has some merit, does not quite work for me.

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/weathercube-gestural-weather/id555306679?mt=8


Final app is Today. Looks great, does both today and the eight day outlook. Easy to navigate and has excellent colour bars. However its forecast is often different from BoM and I find not as reliable.

https://itunes.apple.com/app/today-weather/id556002847


Final thing I will mention is if you have an iPad get Evernote and give it a go.
It is excellent as your notebook and syncs with your computer and phone so you can use the same notebook where ever you are.

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/evernote/id281796108?mt=8

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Sub surface Sea Temperatures

Sub surface Sea Temperatures | The Break | Scoop.it
chris sounness's insight:

The four-month sequence of sub-surface Pacific Ocean equatorial temperature anomalies shows cool anomalies remaining in the sub-surface of the eastern Pacific. Cool anomalies in the sub-surface of the eastern Pacific have hung around and intensified since October 2012. Worth watching in the coming months as to whether the cold is eroded or remains to kick of a La Niña.

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POAMA 1 month out forecast

POAMA 1 month out forecast | The Break | Scoop.it
chris sounness's insight:

The POAMA experimental product is forecasting for April an increased chance of recieving a positive rainfall anomoly in April. Promising signs for the break?

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ENSO Wrap-Up

ENSO Wrap-Up | The Break | Scoop.it
chris sounness's insight:

The ocean temperature in the NINO3.4 region is predicted to stay at normal levels for the next six months.

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Harlem Shake – No make that the Harlem Break

Break editorial

chris sounness's insight:

The Harlem Shake youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=384IUU43bfQ

Welcome back to 2013. From all reports the cropping season for most in Victoriawas one where yield and, more importantly profitability, exceeded expectations. Whilst the season was not a bin buster, it seems it may have had many farmers doing the Harlem Shake, with members of the family joining in for the back half due to the whiff of positive news.
For those of you who want to know and I know it is only a few – Harlem Shake is the pop culture hit of Feb 2013. Seems everyone is doing it including president Obama, washing machines and the army. All right there may be an odd fake!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP5JMYaAl6o

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRYaGpDUfYU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hpEnLtqUDg

With 2012 being positive for many in agriculture, and cropping in particular, the challenge is ensuring the coming years build on the success rather than blow it. Temptation will be great to make decisions based on minimizing tax, but as my dad said, paying tax is a sign of success. The reason not to blow the profits on new plant and technology in 2013 is one where the risk profile is definitely leading to conservative decision making. With so little spring and summer rain the soil moisture is almost non existent. Therefore pulses and canola need to be sown understanding the production risk. Maybe this year is the one to bring back a fallow paddock if there is no rain until a May break? The other key risk management strategy is being ready to start sowing regardless of autumn rain in Late April.

As the Fast Break has indicated-

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#search/fast+break/13cefcc285ecc55d

-at this time of year the seasonal climate models have least skill and currently are leaning in no particular direction.

So, combining the seasonal climate outlook with current soil moisture, means the season at this point is looking very much like the original Harlem Shake clip.

You need to get the gear (helmet on) and start quite deliberately going back and forth in a very controlled way preparing for the season and then when the break comes, lets say May 15, you can move like president Obama with reserved cool rather than the washing machine which breaks down.

So bring on the Harlem Break CS.

 

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Does waiting for the break make sense any more.

Does waiting for the break make sense any more. | The Break | Scoop.it

Dale Grey

chris sounness's insight:

Over the past[sd1]  15 years, autumn has had a case of the wobbles, especially in the east of the state (see graphs of historic April rainfall below).

 

As a result of dry autumns, growers have had limited opportunities for pre-emergent herbicide application for weed control, but more importantly, limited opportunities for getting crops sown on time.

As farmers’ operations get larger, the sowing operation can take more than a month. Waiting for rain has meant that sometimes the last crops were getting sown too late. Enter the practice of dry sowing. Many growers now start sowing by the calendar with oats/vetch for sheep feed going in first and the canola starting somewhere from mid-April onwards and moving on to cereals. Once deemed to be risky and something you would only attempt with oats, dry sowing has proved to be incredibly beneficial to getting crops up immediately the opening rains do come. I don’t know why it is (I have a few theories!) but crops sown 1-3 days after the breaking rain are behind by weeks in maturity compared to crops that come up with the rain. The one critical thing for dry sowing is that the ground needs to be bone dry. Many a farmer has found some of their dry sowing coming up in ten days on soil types where moisture has been marginally adequate. In particular staggered canola germination leads to a nightmare at windrowing time.

 

Of course putting all your crop in the ground with nary a sniff of moisture is not without its problems, let alone your stress levels. Weeds germinating at the same time as the crop, put real pressure on post emergent herbicides. Sowing later maturity varieties in April, that don’t come up in June is problematic for finishing those crops in optimal temperatures. All your canola coming up on the one day means it’s close to windrowing at the one time. Having all your wheat germinating on the same day, if it’s the same variety, means it flowers on the same day, potentially opening yourself up to major frost risk.  I have heard a number of agronomist however say, that receiving 5-10 per cent frost damage suggests that you have sown at the optimal time. These issues aside, if the break hasn’t come by May 1, it seems prudent to me that that some of your most weed free paddocks are sown and ready to grow when it does rain.

 

Interesting work by CSIRO’s James Hunt suggests that we should be having a crack at sowing crops at earlier times, especially in the drier regions. This has been common place in east and south west districts for many years. James’ work suggests that appropriate winter wheat varieties could be held in the silo for the times an early break occurs. A problem we have at the moment is not much to choose from in terms of germplasm. Ideally we need crops with winter habit but mid-season maturity, a cross between Bimbil oats and Yitpi would seem about right! Sowing the right variety early could sometimes lead to a great yield in some years but would seldom be worse than sowing at the common time. The critical thing with sowing winter wheat early is that it needs to have a profile of moisture to get it through to the break. So unless you’ve been lucky it’s not looking too flash at the moment. The other problem is excessive early growth, which if you have sheep wouldn’t be a problem. James’ work at Junee, NSW in 2012 suggests that putting the Loxton slasher over a crop before first node wasn’t a suitable substitute. The best solution was to have the intestinal fortitude to sow at low rates achieving densities in the order of 30 plants/m2! This let the plants tiller out like crazy to achieve the optimal of dry matter at flowering. Sowing thicker amounts leads to thicker, less water efficient crops at grain fill time.

 [sd1]I am being pedantic but they aren’t the last ones ever, they are the past ones! Glad you got me as the editor?

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SST Anomalies

SST Anomalies | The Break | Scoop.it
chris sounness's insight:

Sea surface temperature (SST) along the equatorial Pacific Ocean remains neutral during February. The Coral Sea and Arafura Seas warmed over February increasing the moisture source. The Timor Sea had been very warm but has been stirred up by cyclone Rusty. It remains to be seen whether this coolness hangs around like the effect of cyclone Lua in the region last year.

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SOI

SOI | The Break | Scoop.it
chris sounness's insight:

SOI: Is the air pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin.

The SOI has rapidly rebounded over the past week and is now +3.5 (7March). This value is consistent with normal pressure conditions along the equator.

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State Round UP

Rainfall Deciles

chris sounness's insight:

Mallee: Decile (3-8)

Patchy light rain, some isolated heavy falls. No stored soil moisture generally. Very little going on in the paddocks, small amount of cultivation, some first summer weed spraying going on, none up until now, mainly preparation in the offices and sheds.

Wimmera: Decile (2-7)

Waiting for rain, summer thunderstorms have been very patchy some summer spraying completed. Planning for season 2013 and visiting the Wimmera Machinery Field Days.

Northern: Decile (1-7)

NE-Patchy rainfall, no subsoil moisture, dry east of Yarrawonga (5-25mm), 25-160 mm in the west has caused some volunteer germination.

NC-Patchy rain provided an opportunity for those looking to cultivate to do so.  Penetration of moisture into the profile was shallow due to initial dryness. Some paddocks with a germination of volunteers for those that received over 30mm. A general sense of relief that it can still rain.

South West Decile (1-3)

Very dry, no summer weeds issues and no subsoil moisture. Summer fodder crops suffering badly. Spring sown barley all harvested averaging 1-2t/ha.

Gippsland: Decile (4)

Dry subsoil. A welcome general soaking rain led to some volunteer germination. This is being kept for sheep feed. No weed issues currently. Planning rotations and fertiliser starting to be ordered. Summer maize crops about a metre high, now filling one small cob per plant.

 

Dam Capacities    

www.gwmwater.org.au  www.g-mwater.com.au

 

Grampians Wimmera Mallee: 44.4%, Rocklands 35%

 

Goulburn-Murray: Dartmouth94.6%, Hume 55.5%, Eildon 78.3%, Eppalock 83.0%

 

NSW:  Eucumbene 51%, Burrinjuck 37%, Menindee 49%

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