On-farm grading key to season

Claire TyrrellCountryman
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Craig McDonald put a renewed emphasis on his grain quality after seeing recent harvest issues in the eastern states.

Craig and his wife Jenny farm on five blocks in Carnamah, Coorow and Waddi Forrest, totalling 4050 hectares.

His wheat averaged about 1.4 tonnes per hectare this season, which he said was remarkable considering the lack of rain.

Craig’s crops survived on about 135mm of growing season rainfall.

“It’s quite amazing how much grain we are getting for the amount of rain we had, ” he said.

“If we got one more event in September it would’ve been a completely different season.”

Craig said high grain prices will be the saviour this year, despite well below average yields.

He dusted off the grain grader this harvest to achieve higher screenings on his wheat.

“We had a few screening issues this year, with most of the wheat going in between five and 10 per cent, ” he said.

“With all the problems they are having over east we though we might as well try and get the highest grade and get the bonus for it.

“We haven’t graded grain for about eight years, but we graded most of our crop this year.”

Craig managed to deliver most of his wheat as APW by eliminating the smaller grain on-farm.

His canola yields were about 0.5 tonnes to the hectare, which he was happy with given current grain prices. “With the price of canola at nearly $600 a tonne, we have come out alright, ” he said.

“We are seeing the benefits of cleaning up the land.”

Craig put in chickpeas for the second time in more than a decade.

He said yields were down this season, but the agronomic benefits of chickpeas were clear.

“We grew some chickpeas last year to bulk them up, but we used to grow a lot of chickpeas before ascochyta blight became a problem, ” he said.

“We grow them as part of the rotation – they do the same job as lupins, but on heavier country.”

Craig said he would hold onto about half his chickpeas for next season. The McDonalds finished harvest at the start of this week.

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