ALAWOONA cropper Lachie Singh said his family were in the throes of what could be one of their best seasons, exemplified by their win in the Brown's Well Crop Competition last week.
With parents Kevin and Helen and wife Bonnie, Lachie crops about 3400 hectares of cereals - Scepter wheat, Planet barley and rye - and 730ha of vetch, alongside 1500 self-replacing Merino breeding ewes.
The Singhs won the crop competition on 84.4 points with a Scepter wheat entry, which was sown on May 4 with 30-centimetre spacings and a seed rate of 48 kilograms/ha.
Rainfall to-date had been 287 millimetres, with 230mm during the growing season.
Lachie said the 550ha paddock was left for pasture last year for their sheep, while in 2018, it was sown to barley, yielding 1.4 tonnes/ha.
"Having no crop on it last year helps," he said.
"We also seemed to use more fertiliser at seeding than the other entries (60 kilograms/ha of DAP and 20kg/ha of urea).
"But the good early break in February also enabled us to get a good knockdown before seeding, so that has helped towards how good it looks."
Lachie said the paddock had a "little bit" of a frost touch up in the low lying areas of the paddock, particularly where crops were slightly moisture stressed from the dry July.
"Some heads have been tipped, but I don't think it will upset the yield too much and compared to other years, when half the paddock has been wiped out, it's nothing compared to that," he said.
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Those judging the crop competition put the crop's estimated yield at 2.76t/ha, which Lachie hopes it does get up to, although he would be happy if the whole paddock averaged 2.5t/ha.
Last year, their wheat averaged well under 1t/ha.
Lachie was out spraying off vetch this week, making a tentative start to their harvest. He said they tried to sow as much vetch as possible as a break crop in their two-year rotation.
"We normally intend to graze it, but because this year has turned out so good, we just couldn't get to it all, so now we are spraying some off to harvest," he said.
"In the past couple of years, it has never gotten to harvest stage because of the season - not this year."
We will have a few wheat crops that will benefit from this month's rain, but we don't need much more.
Another 5mm of rain fell at the weekend, which Lachie says is enough for the year.
"We will have a few wheat crops that will benefit from this month's rain, but we don't need much more," he said.
Lachie doesn't expect to start harvesting barley until late November.
He said they cut back the area sown to barley after hearing a little insider information.
"Normally we would sow Commander barley as well, but this year during seeding, we decided to cut our barley hectares back as we knew there was a lot being sown in this region. Plus it kept raining, so we knew we'd be better off growing more wheat," he said.
"Plus Scepter has done really well for us.
"Even in a poor season, it still gives good grain quality, then when it's a favourable season like this, it yields really well."
DEBUT ENTRY ONLY JUST MISSES THE CUT
COMING a close second in the Brown's Well crop competition was first-timer James Shannon and his impressive-looking Cutlass wheat paddock at Paruna, which scored 83.06 points and was estimated to yield 2.64 tonnes a hectare.
The crop was sown on May 5, after being rested the year prior, and has had 180 millimetres of growing season rainfall, and 220mm for the year, including 26mm in October so far.
"The crop did have one challenge - a late germination of brome grass which we treated with Monza in-crop," Mr Shannon said.
"But apart from that, it's just done it all itself - I was surprised how well it had come up because the paddock hasn't had a great history."
In third place on 77.41 points was Adam Flavel, Meribah, with his Scepter wheat crop estimated to yield 2.28t/ha. Mr Flavel said it was a "pretty handy and even crop, free of weeds".
The paddock was also left for pasture last year. It was variable rate sown on May 13 and has had 290mm to-date.
"I think we might be slightly in front of 2016 with our crops this year," he said.
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