HARVEST started last week for Mallee organic farmers Josh and Peri McIntosh, who crop 800 hectares of wheat, rye, oats, barley, triticale and vetch at Taplan, via Loxton.
So far things are “looking very good”, with 240 millimetres of growing season rainfall, compared to 124mm last year.
“Some paddocks of wheat were knocked about by Russian wheat aphid, but they eventually disappeared and the crop recovered, although thinner in some patches,” Mr McIntosh said.
“The late start also made it hard to control weeds, so there is more ryegrass and barley grass in the crop than normal. But we have a Hannaford screen on one header to take out ryegrass and turnip seed if the screenings get too high.”
The McIntoshes started harvesting Moby barley last week, and will go on to Yitpi wheat next week, weather permitting.
Their organic wheat yielded 0.8 tonnes/ha last year, while their rye went 0.5t/ha, but higher yields are expected this year with the extra rain.
“The typical yield reduction in an organic crop is offset by the grain premiums and reduced input costs,” Mr McIntosh said.
“Last year's prices for wheat were more than $800/t and rye was more than $900/t.”
All the seed is stored on-farm and then sold to specialty customers.
“Organic grain is very popular, particularly wheat and rye,” Mr McIntosh said.
“Laucke Flour Mills have bought our wheat and rye for their bread mixes ever since the farm was certified organic in 1996, and have been very good to us.
“We also sell cleaned seed to home millers, other organic cereal farmers and organic/biodynamic orchards and vineyards for cover and green manure crops.”
In an effort to increase yields and improve soils, the McIntoshes will consider Mace wheat and peas next year.
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