NO two seasons are alike, so grain growers will have to carefully consider their sowing plans for this year.
Last year, Victorian growers generally had a relatively full soil moisture profile as a result of heavy summer rain and flooding, a La Nina weather pattern persisting and good grain prices when they were about to sow their crops.
This season is almost the exact opposite.
Soil moisture levels are low or non-existent in most of the state - a factor that will have to be considered when growers weigh up their options.
The weakening La Nina phenomenon means that, unless there is a radical change in weather patterns, growers will be relying hand to mouth on rainfall to carry their crops through the growing season.
In some areas of southern NSW and Victoria's Western District, water moisture is not such an issue. Heavy summer rain in NSW hit harvesting for the second year in a row but it may top up soil profiles with enough water to carry crops through this year if the season dries up in spring.
Growers may have to monitor their soil nutrient levels as some farmers cited leaching of nitrogen after rain early last year.
Southern Farming Systems chief executive Jon Midwood said Western District farmers were not concerned about moisture levels.
Mr Midwood said it had been a dry summer, coming on top of growing season rainfall that "wasn't great".
Indicative of the current dryness was that graziers were looking for feed for their livestock - a big change from the previous two seasons when they had a surplus.
Mr Midwood said the dry summer would probably help keep slug numbers in check and reduce weed control.
That would help keep costs lower this year than in the past.
"It's not going to be expensive to get through the summer," he said.
Mr Midwood said slugs had hit canola crops hard last season.
"So a drier summer might help keep the canola area up this coming season," he said
The common complaint around Australia is low grain prices.
Wheat prices had fallen back to low levels, but have now started to climb.
But countering that is a higher Australian dollar.
The exchange rate was about $US1.02 about four weeks ago but last week it hit $US1.08.
Canola prices on the International Commodity Exchange in Winnipeg, Canada, were hovering about the $A500/tonne mark.
On the Australian Stock Exchange, prices were about $A475/tonne.
A number of growers reported canola being their highest-earning crop this past harvest, the second in a row.
A recent analysis of gross margins by Albury agronomist John Sykes showed canola at about $500/ha, with Hard wheat only about two thirds that.
It was no surprise this past harvest was the biggest yet for canola.
But what works one year may not be the best option the following season.
Growers need to factor in all the weather data and market intelligence they have to make wise decisions this sowing season.
There is clearly an oversupply of wheat but corn and vegetable oil crops are buoyant.