In what has been a tough year for Mallee farmers, Taplan cropper Clinton Scholz has managed to capitalise on the few rains he has received, helping him to taking out the top gong for best water use efficiency at last week's Brown's Well Crop Competition.
Mr Scholz's crop of Scepter wheat impressed the 50 people in attendance on the day, with the crop having an estimated 29 kilograms of grain per millimetre of effective rainfall.
He also came third overall in the competition, receiving a score of 82.21 points out of a possible 100. Crops are scored by attendees based on estimated yield, weeds, disease, agronomy, crop achievement and workmanship, with the average scores tallied to produce the overall winner.
Sown dry on May 5, 20 days before an opening rain of 5mm, the crop has had 125.5mm rainfall this year, with 110mm falling during the growing season. The crop was estimated to yield 1.38 tonnes a hectare.
"Water use efficiency isn't necessarily the one you you want to win, because you'd like to have more rain, but we're blessed to be able to do quite a bit on quite little," Mr Scholz said.
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He crops wheat, barley and peas on about 1620ha of owned and sharefarmed land.
"On our northern lands, sand can be on the lower end of the scale but it's really good quality country and can hold onto the moisture," he said.
"There is about a foot and a half of top soil followed by a clay base, which sort of holds the moisture there."
Mr Scholz has been entering into the Brown's Well crop competition for the past seven years. Five years ago, he had the highest water use efficiency, producing an estimated 17.7kg grain/mm rain, with the higher amount this year down to timeliness of falls.
"We didn't get much rain this year, but the bits we did get, fell at exactly the right time, with a couple of 10mm rains in the summer, and then 25mm in June and another 20mm in September," he said.
"Water use efficiency is extra and beyond if rain events are exactly when you need them. You could get the same amount of rain in another season, but it's too early or too late, you don't achieve the same result.
Scott Hyde, Meribah, came fourth in the competition, scoring 81.59 points out of 100 for his 20ha paddock of Borlaug 100 wheat, sown for the first time this year. It was sown at 50kg/ha with a yield estimate of 1.3t/ha.
The remainder of Mr Hyde's wheat program is Katana, sown at 65kg/ha and expected to reap a slightly lower tonnage.
"The Borlaug 100 has performed pretty well this year even though it's been dry (125.5GSR), the crop seems a bit thicker than Katana with big heads and pushing four to five grains wide," he said.
For the third consecutive year, Allawoona croppers Lachie and Kevin Singh, have been named winners of the Brown's Well Crop Competition.
The Singhs' crop of Scepter wheat, sown dry in early June, received a score of 84.8 points, ahead of Bulla Burra, on 82.42 points. The crop was estimated to yield 1.5t/ha.
With 135 millimetre growing season rainfall, and 160mm in total year to-date, Lachie said soil moisture retention was key to his crop performance this year.
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The Singhs have been competing in the Brown's Well crop competition for about 25 years.
"It's a good day out, it's about getting out to see everyone, and it's good to see if someone else is doing something different, and if that has or hasn't worked," Lachie said.
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