GROWERS should not rely on seasonal weather forecasts to prepare their next crops, a grains expert says.
Agriculture Victoria's Dale Grey was one of the many speakers at the GRDC Grains Research Update.
The conference, which is being held in Bendigo this week, allows agronomists, consultants, researchers, and growers discuss the latest developments in the industry.
Mr Grey, who also leads a web series on the climate, said forecasts were often unpredictable at this time of the year.
"There are a lot of things for farmers to be worrying about but, to be honest, a seasonal climate forecast is not one of them," he said. "It's not something they should be expending a lot of effort on.
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"There doesn't seem to be a major climate driver anywhere in the world that seems to be pushing the models into wet, normal, or drier rainfall. So that's really frustrating, but it's really common at this time of the year.
"The reason for that is during autumn most of the world's oceans are resetting themselves to what they were in spring and summer over last year.
"It will be random weather that occurs in the tropical oceans that kicks them off into a particular direction.
"Random weather only has an seven-day predictability so the models really struggle to set up what is happening in three to four months."
Mr Grey said farmers in the region should look at other factors like stored soil moisture when deciding what crops to choose.
"Because of the storms that have already been around and because of last season, there are varying amounts of stored soil moisture in paddocks around Victoria," he said. "That should guide some of the crop choices you put in.
"If you've got stored soil moisture there in some of the drier environments, that means you have sort of an insurance policy in the case the winter or the spring rain falls over.
"The other thing is when does the autumn break come? If the break comes in the first week of April, that's fantastic and we can plant anything we want.
"But if it hasn't broken until May, well that makes some of our riskier crops - like some of the pulse crops or canola - become more marginal and the likelihood of them yielding well is a lot less."
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