Simplified cropping program yields results
Rainfall is down but yields are up at the Reid family’s Boyup Brook farm, where harvest is about halfway through.
Peter and Carolyn Reid are bringing in a bigger grain crop than expected with their son Alex, who returned to the farm full-time in August.
While their harvest efforts have been slowed by widespread late-season rain across the WA grain belt, they have been really happy with the crop results so far.
They wrapped up the canola harvest last, with their 400ha canola crop having yields 20-30 per cent better than anticipated, and are now on to the barley, which is showing similar promise.
“Climatically, the year is below average, but from a financial perspective and with grain yields the way they are it will be an above-average year,” Mr Reid said.
“We had a lot less rain this year than usual and had expected an average season.
“Coming off the back of a very dry 2019 spring, harvest results so far indicate we are on track for one of our best grain production seasons yet.”
The Reids simplified their cropping program this year and planted just one variety of barley.
They also dropped oats and added lupins to the 1050ha program for the first time.
They seeded 450ha of Stingray and hybrid TT canola, 500ha of Planet barley, and 100ha of Jurien lupins — plus 100ha of pasture and hay, made up of ryegrass, oats and clover.
The family also run 10,000 adult Merino sheep, with the majority of ewes mated to Merinos and about 3000 mated to crossbreds to target prime lamb production.
The Reids swung lupins into their program for the first time ever this year, growing a trial plot of 100ha to work out whether it would be more economical to grow their own.
While Mr Reid said he wasn’t convinced that was the case, he said the family were always keen to try new things and had enjoyed the trial.
With their canola all in the bin, the Reids started harvesting barley last week.
After returning to the farm in 1987, they are continuing a farming legacy set by Mr Reid’s great grandfather Malcolm Reid, who settled at Boyup Brook in 1903.
He said while rainfall figures had fallen, modern technology and farming techniques meant crops in the area were yielding more grain than ever before.
“We find that the 50/50 split of cropping and livestock works extremely well for our area, with great synergies between the two enterprises,” Mr Reid said.
“We find we can increase our stocking rate during winter and run the sheep on stubbles in summer, therefore maximising our overall stocking rate.”
This year, the perfect storm of circumstances emerged after late winter rainfall broke at the end of May followed by 10mm-20mm increments throughout the growing season.
“There wasn’t a lot of rain but it came virtually at the right time ... we had the perfect weather for cereals and oilseed crops this year,” Mr Reid said.
“We had enough rain, no frost, and no waterlogging events. It has gone well the whole way through.
“We are well down on rainfall, but the timing has been spot on for us.”
It was a drier-than-average winter at Boyup Brook, with some dams not filling, but Mr Reid said he would be able to pump water around the farm to avoid issues for stock water during summer.
After kicking off harvest on November 23, the Reids have parked up three times due to wet weather, with 30mm of rain falling at Boyup Brook since then.
Mr Reid said the family always set the goal of finishing before Christmas but had only met that target twice in his 33 years on the farm. As if they weren’t busy enough, the family also started shearing this week, with the goal of finishing about 3000 sheep before Christmas and the rest in January.
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