WITH this season's hay cut in full swing and looking the goods, Finniss' David Floyd is looking forward to an above-average grain harvest.
At Brookleigh Park, David runs a mixed enterprise with hay, grain, and 1300 Merino ewes mated to terminal sires.
He estimates the three enterprises make up about one-third each of his operation.
"This property has always been a mixed farm," David said.
"It's good to keep a few eggs in a few different enterprises and hopefully they don't all fold at once.
"It gives a bit of a safety net and all three have given us reasonable returns over the past few years."
Brookleigh Park comprises 800 hectares, while David - who farms with partner Sue and full-time staffer Malcolm Sorrell - sharefarms another 700ha within 10 kilometres of the home property.
This year, David planted about 200ha of hay made up of Brusher oats and Orion wheat, and a pasture mix of subclover and ryegrass.
"I tend to like the Brusher variety of oats because it stays greener in the bottom of the canopy for longer and seems to suit this area," he said.
"I'm growing Orion for the first time this year, which seems to be going well."
David started cutting hay on September 27 and says he has seen some excellent patches, some good patches, and some fairly ordinary patches.
He started with pasture hay before moving on to a paddock of wheat and a paddock of oats.
This is in part due to the very wet year experienced by southern Fleurieu Peninsula growers in 2012, coupled with above average rain this year, with water in some paddocks.
David is estimating hay yields of about 17 bales a hectare this year, up from the long-term average of about 13-14 bales/ha.
"We got out of export hay a few years ago, so all the hay is sold domestically now," he said.
"Basically all of it goes to beef and dairy farmers on the Fleurieu, but there aren't so many dairies now with the industry contracting.
"That does worry me a bit, because I sell a bit of grain through the Fleurieu as well, but at the same time when one door shuts, another one opens.
"In this case, that has been the amount of hobby farmers that have moved to the region and are chasing hay."
David has seeded about 800ha for grain across the home property and sharefarmed blocks, comprising Mandelup lupins, Gunyah peas, Katana wheat, Buloke barley, oats and broad beans.
After growing a small patch of broad beans last year with impressive results, David seeded a bigger area this year. But he is not convinced with the latest results.
"The only reason I planted them is because it has been so wet the last couple of years," he said.
"It tends to dry out too much in September here for beans and the soil types are a bit too much of a mixed bag to sow beans."
Seeding started on time this year, thanks to decent rains mid-to-late April.
But then a fortnight of dry weather put "shivers" down David's spine.
"We thought that was going to bring us undone because I had sowed pasture and feed barley early, but it struggled through," he said.
About 90 per cent of David's crops have been direct-drilled since about 1996, but any problem paddocks get a working-up.
The wheat was sown with 80 kilograms/ha of DAP down the tube with the seed, oats, peas and lupins at 110kg/ha and barley 75kg/ha.
All cereal crops were hit with at least 50kg/ha of urea during the growing period to tackle leaching problems.
A notable omission from David's cropping program is canola.
"I've got my break rotations in cutting hay and running sheep," he said.
"At this stage I don't have any plans to plant canola in coming years, but it is something I might look at in later years to perhaps clean up a bit of ryegrass."
* Full report in Stock Journal, October 17 issue, 2013.