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Brendon upbeat on bottom line

Claire TyrrellCountryman

The Haeusler family took a gamble this season by planting canola for the first time in more than a decade.

Brendon, wife Lydia, parents Trevor and Chris, sister Tamara and brother-in-law Neil manage 5665 hectares of mixed farming country across three blocks in Carnamah and Three Springs.

This year they planted 80ha of Cobbler canola on the Carnamah property, their first canola crop in 14 years.

"We were having trouble getting rid of barley grass and needed a break crop to clean up the paddocks and have some area to go in dry the following year," Brendon said.

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He said the canola had reasonable establishment and would be "a handy" crop at harvest.

"It is a bit thin but has podded OK," he said.

Brendon expected the canola would be ready to harvest within a week. It would most likely yield close to 0.7 tonnes per hectare, about half a tonne below the area's average.

"At the moment, 0.7 tonnes of canola is worth about a tonne and half of wheat, and you have fewer fees because you're only delivering half of the amount," he said.

Brendon said canola would be part of the program from now on because it was effective in cleaning up paddocks.

"I'll keep on putting it in to clean up some grasses - mainly barley grass," he said. "We don't have any resistance issues because we haven't grown it for so long."

Genetically modified canola is not likely to be on the cards for the Haueslers because Brendon wants to "keep it simple" and doesn't see a need for GM in their operation.

Just 240mm of rain has fallen across the family's properties this year, well down on the 350mm average.

About 50mm of summer rain fell early this year but Brendon said it was too early to make any difference to the moisture profile.

"We had about two inches of summer rain but it had all disappeared by the time we had a decent (growing season) rain," he said.

The proper season break came for the region on June 7, when about 10mm was recorded at Carnamah, and when 25mm followed on June 10, the Haeuslers' crops were well established.

But just 22.5mm of July rain fell across the farm, well under the average of more than 65mm, which put the crops under moisture stress.

"We started seeding in early May on about 6mm of rain with canola and lupins," Brendon said.

"The lupins don't look very good but the canola is OK.

"There are about 80ha of lupins that won't be harvestable."

Brendon said their wheat was looking reasonable, particularly on the block west of Three Springs.

"We put in 170ha of Calingiri wheat at Three Springs this year and that's looking good," he said.

"We normally grow Wyalkatchem there but put in all Calingiri on the west block this year."

As the family prepares for harvest, they expect a less than average crop but remain upbeat about their bottom line.

"It is not looking too bad. It will definitely be below average but for the amount of rain we've had it is looking good," Brendon said.

"Our profit won't be too bad because grain prices are good and we didn't spend as much on nitrogen fertilisers because the season was so late.

"In a good year we would have put out another third on top of what our crops had this season.

"We topped up wheat stubbles and some pastures, wheat-on-wheat on lighter ground, but it wasn't much."

Brendon said he topped up 40 per cent of the cropping program with about 30kg/ha of urea.

The farms got close to 30mm of rain in September, which Brendon said was helpful. He added rain from this point would benefit the wheat but not the other crops.

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