Bolder front sets up faster harvest
Farmer Darryl Jupp runs Outfield Holdings with his brother, Bevan, and father, Ken.
The family minimises the hard times by investing wisely in time and labour-saving equipment and by diversifying their business.
According to Darryl, diversification of income sources is critical in managing seasonal fluctuations.
Outfield Holdings includes a 2400-hectare mixed cropping operation and a self-replacing Merino herd at Yuna, 70km north-east of Geraldton, and a 750ha property 60km away at North Hampton, used predominantly for cross-bred sheep. They lease an additional 400ha for cropping at Yuna.
Overall, the cropping operation includes 1400ha of wheat with average yields of two tonnes per hectare, 500ha of lupins averaging 1.5t/ha and 100ha of barley averaging 2t/ha.
"We sow a variety of grain types to make the most of our varying soil profiles," Darryl said. "Our focus is on the production of high quality grain to maximise our returns.
"In 2010, we grew 800ha of future noodle wheat and 400ha of Mace hard variety wheat after trialling them in 2009 on a small acreage.
"The noodles grew exceptionally well in our soft, sandy soils, while the Mace was excellent on the harder ground.
"The late rains didn't arrive though, so yields were lower than anticipated. Despite this, we're still confident of the performance capabilities of both varieties and have sown them again this season."
To make the most of what they hope will be a better season this year, the Jupps upgraded from their previous Case IH 2388 Axial-Flow combine harvester to a new Case IH 7088 Axial-Flow model with a 35-foot front late last year.
"The lack of rain late in the season meant our yields were down to about 1.2t/ha for wheat and barley and 0.9t/ha for lupins," Darryl said.
"But despite the low yields, investing in the 7088 was still a smart business move. It has set us up for success in what is looking to be an above average season this year."
With its 35-foot front and nine-litre, 325hp (242kW) engine, the Axial-Flow 7088 will enable the Jupps to harvest in record time.
Grain quality is protected with the Axial-Flow rotor ensuring gentle threshing and increased grain separation. The 7088 also features a 7m (24-foot) unload auger and a106-litre (three-bushel) per second unload rate.
"All of these features make our job easier but it's the bigger front that will really make the difference for us," Darryl said.
"In comparison, the 2388 had a 30-foot front. With the new 35-foot front, we should be able to get through the harvest at least a week faster.
"We employ a contractor to drive the chaser bin during the harvest. Being able to get the job done faster means we'll save at least $2000 on wages.
"Plus, getting through the harvest quicker means we can get it into the bin faster, reducing our risk of the grain quality being affected by inclement weather.
"When you consider that the difference in price between high grade and lower grade grain can vary by about $25/t, these sorts of considerations have the potential to make a big difference to our bottom line."
The Jupps' fleet also includes four Case IH tractors - an MX 240 which was purchased in 2002, an MX 285 bought in 2005, a JX 95 and a 9350 model Steiger.
"The Steiger is used to pull our air seeder, while the MX 285 is used mainly for spraying, spreading and pulling the chaser bin, with its fuel economy a standout feature," Darryl said.
"We upgraded from an older model Case IH tractor in 2003 and, using the MX 285, we've halved our fuel use. It gets through 400ha per tank of fuel, while still being versatile enough to complete a range of jobs."
The JX 95 is used for the sheep side of the Jupps' farming operation, which includes 100 head of Merinos kept at the property in Yuna and 1000 cross-bred sheep at the at the North Hampton property.
"The sheep side of the business helps to provide a regular income, allowing us to overcome the seasonal fluctuations of grain growing," Darryl said.
"The sheep lamb in late April and are sold by the end of September, averaging $90 to $100 a head.
"For us, diversification is critical. We're constantly looking at how we can improve our practices to increase efficiency.
"For example, three years ago we had 1450 wethers in our herd. We started to look at the prices we were getting and the costs involved in feeding them.
"When you consider we get $100 for a three-month-old lamb and $100 for a 12-month-old wether, it makes sense to sell the lambs off when they're young. These days we only keep 300 wethers. We've also shifted shearing this year to summer rather than winter.
"This gives the ewes a break as they lamb in April. The wool prices have also been pretty good this year at $5.50/kg as opposed to $4.50/kg last year.
"When lamb and wool prices are strong, it helps us overcome a slightly lower yield like we saw this year."
The Jupps also grow their own stockfeed to reduce input costs.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails