Bin burster year a boon for Bowmans

Corrina RidgwayCountryman
Natalie Bowman with husband Leon and son Ash on their Grass Patch property.
Camera IconNatalie Bowman with husband Leon and son Ash on their Grass Patch property. Credit: Corrina Ridgeway/Countryman

If this new year is anything like the last, the Bowman family will greet it in full cheer.

After several desolate seasons in the grasp of drought, the small towns of Grass Patch and Salmon Gums will put the year 2013 down in their history as not only a drought breaker, but a bin-burster.

Crops produced in the towns were among the best the region had seen in more than a century of agricultural history.

The Bowmans' 7600ha property, about 25km west of Grass Patch, has been farmed by Leon and Natalie Bowman for 22 years. Their son Ash returned home for the 2013 season, a move he may be unlikely to regret, after what father Leon describes as some of the best results ever.

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Yields from peas and canola are the highest the farm has recorded.

"In 2003, we had four and five-tonne wheat crops, in probably our best season ever. This season is up there though and it's just been so consistent all the way through the program, " Leon said.

The property's rotational split consisted of 3600ha of Mace and Koorak wheat, 1900ha of Stingray, Cobbler and Telfer canola, 600ha of Gunya and Twilight peas and 2100ha of Hindmarsh barley.

The farmers were impressed with results on their canola, with yields averaging from 1t/ha on Telfer, 1.2t/ha on Cobbler and up to 1.6t/ha on Stingray.

"The only reason for the yield difference has been the growing season length," Leon said.

"The extended growing season on Cobbler and Stingray outperformed the Telfer due to the (exceptional) season conditions.

"The growing season was drawn out due to the moisture and mild weather."

Peas averaged a tidy 1.5t/ha, while barley was also surprising for the inland area, yielding between 3t/ha and 4t/ha overall.

Wheat yields have been between 2.5t/ha up to 4.5t/ha, although Leon admits most paddocks averaged a good 3.3t/ha.

The Koorak had a slight mould tendency due to the season's moist conditions.

Little was changed for the property this season apart from increasing hectares put to canola, as the Bowmans took full advantage of abundant subsoil moisture.

With the harvest well and truly behind them, the Bowmans were happy to take a moment to appreciate such an amazing season.

Foremost in their minds is the astounding difference one season can make.

"The yields we have this year are double what we had from the previous season, " Leon said.

Keeping that in mind and summer rains on the way, the Bowmans will be hoping 2014 keeps on trend.

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