AFTER a successful trial of S&W Overland forage oats last year, the Waldhuter family plan to expand the area grown in a big way this season for their sheep grazing operation south of Eudunda.
Third generation farmer Stephen Waldhuter and wife Sheralee farm with son Shane and his wife Elissa.
They run 2000 Whitehill-blood Poll Merinos ewes - half for self replacement ewes and half for fat lamb production - at their Hansborough Heights property, which has been in the family for more than a century.
They already grow Yalara oats, alongside their wheat, barley and bean crops, but were looking for a "more suitable" grazing option for their sheep and their agronomist suggested the new Overland variety.
"While Yalara is great for cutting hay and some grazing, it just doesn't have the longevity that Overland has," Shane Waldhuter said.
"We wanted a variety that would last at least through harvest, while the other crops were being reapt for stubble grazing."
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They put in seven hectares of Overland oats for seed and 10ha for grazing.
Shane said the crop didn't have the best start. It was sown dry on May 19 and didn't receive a good break until late June.
"The 7ha grown for seed was very slow to take off, but once that rain came it took off," he said.
"By mid-August, we were about to put 200 ewes on the 10ha sown for grazing, then the lambs again later after weaning.
"The Overland oats have been good for grazing as it has stayed greener for longer than other varieties - there was green feed for the ewes right up until harvest.
"I even went out to check on our older ewes this week and the Overland is still reshooting."
Shane said the 50 millimetres of rain that fell in November certainly helped boost the crop's longevity.
They harvested the 7ha of Overland for seed on December 17, which yielded close to 18 tonnes, equating to between 2-2.5t/ha.
Shane said that's what they had expected it to yield. They didn't cut any for hay.
"We are pretty happy with our Yalara oats to continue being cut for hay for now, and make the switch to Overland for grazing," he said.
The Waldhuters plan to increase their area sown to S&W Overland to between 100 hectares and 150ha at Eudunda.
They are contemplating cutting back the area sown to barley, but will consider mixing the oat seed with some barley.
"If there is another slow start this year we may consider doing that so the ewes have at least the Compass barley to graze on when they start to lamb," Shane said.
"Then later our sheep will be able to graze on the Overland oats."
This year, S&W Seed Company Australia says it plans to replace its Outback oat variety to the newly-released Overland variety.
"Overland has improved tiller production and a wide leaf, with the same mid-to-late maturity as its predecessor," the company said.
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