Home' The Loxton News : February 11th 2015 Contents The Loxton News, Wednesday, February 11, 2015 – 9
MDBA total stor-
age decreased by
147GL, with the
active storage now
4694GL (56 per
age decreased by 32GL to 3110GL (81
per cent capacity). At Hume Reservoir,
the storage volume decreased by 83GL
to 1365GL (45 per cent capacity). The
release averaged around 16,700ML/day
and is currently around 17,000ML/day.
On the Edward River system, diver-
sions at Edward Offtake and Gulpa
offtakes averaged 1930ML/day for the
week. Wakool Main Canal orders aver-
aged around 1100ML/day and the flow
downstream of Stevens Weir continues
at around 2100ML/day. On the Goulburn
River at McCoys Bridge, the flow
decreased to 1000ML/day.
On the lower Murrumbidgee River,
the flow at Balranald reduced to around
700ML/day. Downstream on the Murray
at Euston, the flow is now 8300ML/day.
At Menindee Lakes (currently managed
by New South Wales), the total storage
volume decreased by 8GL to 138GL (8
per cent capacity). Releases from the
lakes, measured at Weir 32, were steady
at around 160ML/day.
Lock 8 will be lowered a further 25cm
to a total of 50cm below full supply level
during February as part of the weir pool
manipulation program to provide envi-
ronmental benefit to riparian vegetation
around the weir pool.
At Lake Victoria, the storage level has
fallen to 24.67m AHD (413GL, 61 per
The flow into South Australia is cur-
rently targeting 9400ML/day and includes
entitlement and environmental trade. At
the Lower Lakes, the five-day average
level reduced 1cm to 0.62m AHD.
Berri 210EC units, Waikerie 280,
Morgan 300, Mannum 330, Milang 780.
You’re damned if you do, and you’re
damned if you don’t.
Policy formulation is one of life’s chal-
lenges that most try to avoid. It’s a dry
topic; it’s risky and mostly left for some-
one else to worry about, write about and
explain in simple language.
It’s hard because there are rarely less
than 10 ‘reasonable’ points of view and
seeing it from another’s perspective is
Troublesome policies mostly concern
taxes, levies or punishment.
When not directly affected, we often
tend to be experts; from the vantage
point of the tractor seat, the kitchen, or
the lounge. That’s safe. There’s only the
dog, the canary or the cat to balance
Income tax, paid parental leave, carbon
tax, rent resource tax, superannuation
and climate change are just a few of the
policy areas about which we may have an
opinion but we are unlikely to ‘die in the
ditches’ over them.
When it’s an issue that’s close to home
however, one that impacts our very live-
lihoods, it is imperative that we become
informed and help shape policy.
Last week’s hot potato column piece
about the WET rebate wine tax policy
broached a topic that is complex, conten-
tious and in the minds of some, the most
problematic set of rules hampering the
recovery of our industry.
The Winemakers’ Federation and Wine
Grape Growers Australia peak bodies
have been toiling to clarify the policy for
more than 12 months. The ATO is strug-
gling to reconcile the regulations with
the wide and varied range of interpre-
tations all of which are argued as being
legitimate, depending on the perspective
of the person or enterprise affected.
But it’s crunch time. If the growers and
winemakers cannot reach agreement and
communicate a clear and unified position
to government, the growing antagonism
between stakeholders will continue to
distract and detract from the real job of
rebuilding a sustainable Australian wine
As reported last week, Riverland Wine
is listening to growers and winemakers
and preparing a clear statement of posi-
tion to assist all parties to agree what is
the most appropriate WET rebate policy
for our industry. If you want to express a
point of view, email (admin@riverland-
Properties in permanent drought
It seems that no time since exit packag-
es were announced as an option to leave
First announced by the Federal
Government in September 2006, there
was little or no interest in the $75,000
to “sell the farm and leave the industry”.
The RWGA lobbied Minister McGauran
consistently and in September, 2007,
the exit grant was doubled to $150,000,
plus $10,000 for retraining and a further
$10,000 as contribution towards reloca-
In December, 2007, there was a change
of government and the lobbying contin-
ued. As part of the 2008 budget package,
new Treasurer Wayne Swan made fur-
ther changes, increasing the small block
threshold from 15ha to 40ha and with-
drawing the obligation for the irrigator
to sell the property.
The scheme finally gained real trac-
For many growers, worn down by the
hardships of the ongoing supply and
demand imbalance, the drought and the
high cost of water, the package seemed
the lesser of two evils and more than 170
applications were filed before the closing
date of September, 2009.
One of the many ‘conditions’ imposed
on irrigators was an exclusion period of
five years, during which the irrigation
block could not be used to carry on an
irrigation farming enterprise; nor could
the grantee participate in any irrigation
farming anywhere in Australia.
For most irrigators, that five-year peri-
od will expire this year.
Unfortunately, some of these blocks
have now been stranded without water
and without the possibility of other irri-
gators being able to acquire the property
for irrigation purposes.
Water delivery rights have been reallo-
cated in some instances leaving no avail-
able capacity in some lines to return water
to those blocks for any irrigated crop.
These former irrigators now own a
stranded asset with little or no likelihood
of being able to sell them.
It will be interesting to see what solu-
tions may be found for these dust bowls,
scattered across the region in the coming
The bitter irony of this is that the
irrigators could not sell the properties
during the drought, at anything but fire
sale price, and those properties are now
destined to be left in a permanent state
Now is the time
Now is the time to prepare for harvest.
All the hard work bringing the vines from
pruning to fruition is nearly complete.
The next two months are the culmina-
tion of all this work.
Irrigation is still a vital activity.
Although the season so far has been
mild we can still expect long periods of
very hot weather. February is usually our
Adequate water is needed to ensure
maximum leaf function: to ripen grapes as
quickly as possible and make sure vines
are in the best condition for next year.
Baume sampling is one of the most
important activities leading up to har-
vest. Sampling should be thorough, accu-
rately representing the ripeness of the
Wineries can impose penalties for
inaccurate results or if the load does not
meet minimum sugar levels.
Baume tests should be conducted week-
ly or even twice weekly as harvest nears.
Other activities such as making sure
final spray diary forms have been sent
to the winery, getting PMS supplies and
grape delivery advice books are all part
of harvest preparation.
Harvester set up and operation is vital
to make sure vine damage is minimal and
MOG is minimised.
Excessive MOG can attract significant
penalties and can be avoided by attention
to the operation of the harvester.
Make sure you discuss this issue with
the harvest operator before commencing
River Murray Water Report
week ending Wednesday, February 4
Citrus Australia - SA Regional Wrap
Calibration and application
A very successful and informative grower workshop was
held on January 28 in Waikerie.
This workshop provided growers with practical first-
hand information on spray calibration and application by
our guest speaker Scott Mathew (solutions development
specialist from the chemical company Syngenta).
This was followed by a spray demonstration by
Martinani, who displayed their Whirlwind low volume
electrostatic spray unit. The spray unit is fitted with a KWH
electrostatic device which uses the principals of positive
and negative electro fields to actively charge the units
After a barbecue dinner, a block inspection was con-
ducted with an ultraviolet light which illuminates the dye
added to the spray unit’s tank to demonstrate the efficacy
of the spray application. This gave growers the opportunity
to form their own opinion on application coverage.
Information from the day will be shared with all grow-
ers. Thank you to all growers who attended the workshop
and to all the presenters for sharing their valuable time and
knowledge with us.
Pest Identification – Loxton late February
CASAR’s IDO Sam Rogers will provide details of the next
grower workshop (‘pest identification’) and barbecue to be
held in Loxton later this month. All growers and industry
sectors are welcome to attend these workshops which are
Balancing the crop load
This season is not considered to be an above average
crop load, with many blocks having a very light fruit set.
It is important to carefully assess fruit densities and fruit
size now as this allows growers to make more informed
decisions about any crop load adjustments required:
• 4-5 oranges / 0.5m quadrat is an optimal crop load.
• Fruit size of oranges should have been at least 44mm
in diameter at the beginning of January and 54mm now
to grow to a size of 75mm which is the minimum export
count 113/88 by early June (refer to the table below ‘pre-
dicted growth rate’).
Take action if:
• Fruit density counts for oranges are more than
• Fruit density counts for 8-10 for mandarins/0.5m
• 50 per cent of the fruit was less than 40mm at
the beginning of January. Hand thinning during January-
February is a beneficial strategy to improve fruit size:
• Remove wind blemished, damaged and small fruit
(<50mm in early February).
Predicted growth rate:
For more information, refer to fruit size management
guide part one and two at the website (dpi.nsw.gov.au/
Citrus requires optimum nutrition at each growth stage
to promote better fruit size and tree health.
Growth stage one (November-December) requires ade-
quate supply of calcium to reduce albedo breakdown.
Growth stage two (January-April): Potassium should be
applied during January and February after the final fruit
drop stage. Aim for leaf levels of 1.0-% -1.5% to ensure cal-
cium uptake is not affected. Ensure good N: K (2≈1) ratios.
Potassium sprays should occur in December, January, and
February (3 per cent potassium nitrate depending on his-
torical leaf-K levels).
Aim to provide 25 per cent of the annual nitrogen
requirements: Single dose broadcast application should
have been applied in January. Fertigation applied monthly
from January onwards backing off towards the end of
March as excess applications of nitrogen and potassium
after this time can cause delays in maturity and colouration
and produce coarser rinds.
Applications should always be based on leaf analysis and
leaf colour. Nutrition strategy should be revised according
to variety, crop set, timing of maturity and tree age.
All good fertilizer and nutrition programs should be sup-
ported by regular leaf analysis and good record keeping.
This enables the grower to monitor changes and revise
programs. Leaf analysis should not be the sole indicator to
determine the next season’s nutrient status.
Other factors such as tree health, vigour, leaf colour, yield
and rind texture at harvest should be included. February
to mid-March is the ideal time to collect leaves but not any
later. When taking a sample, aim for the second or third
spring-flush leaf from a non-fruiting shoot from all sides of
the tree. A representative sample includes a cross section
of 20 trees and a total of 100 leaves.
The Fruit Doctors offer a leaf analysis service. Standards
can be found at the website (dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/
Avoid applying GA on early navels at this time. Apply
to washington and late navel varieties now. Application
after this time may delay colour for one to two weeks. The
benefits and effects of a summer GA application include:
• Reduction of the incidence of albedo breakdown
(creasing) and delays its development.
• Enhances firmness of the rind.
• Improves fruit quality and extends post harvest shelf-
life by reducing fruit susceptibility to moulds.
• @ 20ppm if the trees have an albedo history. 15ppm if
concerned about colour delay.
• pH 4.0 – 4.5- recheck after mixing well before appli-
• Apply during the cool of the morning or only after
irrigation in the afternoon.
• Ensure good coverage and canopy penetration.
• Recommended water application rates are 5000L/
ha for small trees, 7500L/ha for medium-sized trees and
10,000L/ha for large trees.
Always add a spreader. Do not add additional spreader
if you used an acidifying agent which normally contains a
Apply GA after three weeks from an oil spray, or one
week prior to an oil spray.
Summer oil application
Oil sprays are a key component of IMP programs
and play a vital role in the suppression of mealy bug
and keeping red scale at nil to low levels for export
Apply oil sprays once the crawlers have emerged. If
applied correctly Movento has very good chemical control
of red scale.
Aphytis should be released in February for red scale
control. Ensure a four week gap between insecticides, oil
and GA applications and aphytis releases.
Remove any suckers or root stock from now through to
March with little regrowth expected. Skirting (50cm) and
weed control under the canopy is essential as it is peak
adult Fullers rose weevil activity time. Dispose of any waste
fruit to avoid island fly infestation.
If you have questions about anything in this week’s
column or an issue that you would like discussed please
CASAR chair Con Poulos E: (saregion@citrusaustralia.
CASAR IDO Sam Rogers E: (sam.rogers@citrusaustralia.
com.au) or phone 0477 110 933.
Local farmer and Nuffield
scholar Robin Schaefer has
completed a research paper,
highlighting the effect of weather
forecasting to farmers.
The paper, titled Weather Forecasting
and Business Management Systems, sug-
gests that despite weather predictions
becoming increasingly accurate, farmers
should not take predictions literally.
Mr Schaefer said five and seven day
forecasts had increased in accuracy by
45 per cent in the past 30 years, while the
three day forecast has increased accuracy
by 27 per cent to become 97 per cent
“Given the uncertain nature of weather
forecasts, the riskiest thing anyone could
do is to take a weather forecast literally,”
Mr Schaefer said.
Mr Schaefer said methods had come
a “long way” with the advent of more
sophisticated technology like satellite
forecasting, but that farmers should still
be wary of the impact of over-subscrib-
ing to data.
“...We see stories of farmers who fol-
lowed a forecast of a drought literally,
made a dramatic business decision, such
as deciding not to sow any crop at all or
totally de-stocking, which proved to be
the correct decision and resulted in a dra-
matic escape from its effects,” he said.
“For every one of these stories, there
are many more where a dramatic deci-
sion proved to be incorrect, resulting in
“As weather forecasts continue to
become more accurate farmers will
begin to increase their reliance on them.
However, this could increase the risk to
the business, especially when the fore-
cast will inevitably be wrong.”
With weather an essential part of plan-
ning daily operations, Mr Schaefer said
it could mean the difference between a
profitable and unprofitable year.
“As a farmer, I am also a weather fore-
caster, I refer to as much information as
possible, from as many sources as I have
available, then use this information to
influence my decision making,” he said.
“Research needs to be targeted at sea-
sonal forecasting. Investigations for this
report have confirmed there is plenty of
scope to continue to improve seasonal
forecasting. To achieve this, researchers
need to think outside the square, to be
bold and innovative.
“On the opposite end of the scale to
seasonal forecasting is the emerging sci-
ence of micro meteorology.”
Schaefer puts spotlight on weather forecasting
Local farmer and Nuffield scholar Robin Schaefer recently
completed a research paper about the effect of weather
forecasting on agriculturalists.
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