We had 50mm of rainfall in Easter week on my farms in Santa Fe, which made harvest difficult, but we have now returned to harvesting in good weather. My first crop – 560ha (1,380 acres) (41% of total soya area) – yielded 4,000kg/ha on average, which is my best result for 20 years. We are now starting to harvest soya beans on farms in Bandera, with expectations of good yields for the area, which can vary between 2t/ha to 2.5t/ha.
The historical gap between first and second crops of soya beans has always been 600-1,000kg/ha. But this year is 1,500-2,200kg/ha. This result for second crops is one of the worst in recent years. Dry weather at planting and moisture loss to the previous wheat crop are to blame.
The 2011 wheat crop is of concern based on drilling expectations for this winter (June). Planting areas earmarked for wheat this year are low. One negative factor is the marketing difficulties. I still have 200t of unsold wheat on farm from last harvest. Current prices are about US$178/t (£109/t), but the real value is US$256/t (£156/t), so I don’t want to lose that difference.
There is a risk that the soil will not be replenished with moisture. Furthermore, the input-price ratios are less favourable than last year, especially for fertilisers. For example, diammonium phosphate (DAP) costs are 10% higher than last year through its increased use.
Therefore, we will be carefully considering the agronomy for double-cropped wheat – sown in June and harvested in November – and the following second crop of soya beans. Assessment of soil-water content at planting, which is crucial for final yield and choice of cultivation technique, is paramount. We will be aiming for higher wheat quality, not only to boost yields, but to achieve good levels of protein and gluten.
Read more from Federico and our other Arable Farmer Focus writers.