Bumper yields in store for Joe

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Joe Candeloro's massive 40,000 tonnes of on-farm grain storage might have been completed last year, but thanks to a less than stellar season the Toodyay farmer came nowhere near filling it.

What a difference 12 months can make.

A quarter of the way through harvest and with 9000 tonnes of wheat in the bin, Joe said this year the situation could not have been more different.

"Harvest has been going exceptionally well," he said. "And as far as the quality goes it's blown me to pieces - it's all gone APW and some has gone H2 - every single load, it's beyond belief."

In what Joe described as "unusual" high wheat yields have combined with high protein.

He'd been expecting to use any high-protein wheat to bring up lower-protein loads but now has no need.

"It's a record really - I'll probably never see this again," he said.

"There's exceptional tonnage but averaging it out the wheat's going three to five tonnes (a hectare) and some areas are a bit better.

"I knew it was going to be a big crop before we started harvest, but I thought it was going to be very low protein. It's unusual to get a big crop and high protein.

"It could be that the yield wasn't there last year, it could be the fertiliser residual from last year."

The season started out sketchy and Joe, who farms with his wife Maria and sons Jerome, Dion and Aaron, was bracing for yet another disappointing cropping year.

After a dry start, the canola program was slashed by almost a fifth to 300ha, but once seeding was done and dusted the season gradually began to turn around.

In his 36 years farming at Toodyay, Joe said he hadn't really seen anything like it.

"Rain came all at the right times," he said.

"I can remember saying many times talking to other farmers, if I had a sprinkler over the whole farm I don't think I could have irrigated much better.

"It was just right - it didn't flood like we used to get in the past, or get boggy and then all of a sudden dry off. It was perfect."

But while Mother Nature might have delivered the goods, grain prices remain disappointing.

His huge on-farm storage may allow him to wait until prices begin to reverse, but Joe said there's always risk involved.

"We'll store the grain all here," he said. "Prices are disappointing at present, but it will all hinge on the European and American crop they're putting in.

"It's a gamble but we'll keep grain for a few years if we have to."

The storage is possibly the largest in Australia and allows the Candeloro family to harvest and store grain from their Toodyay, Victoria Plains and Goomalling properties without hold up.

With harvest a race against the weather, Joe said they could not afford to be waiting for trucks or storage to free up.

"We need to also to be able to get the crop out of the weather and this (storage) is much quicker than the alternatives," Joe said.

"We're probably taking it off at three times the speed we used to - when you're waiting around you're vulnerable to the weather."

Fast facts *

_WHO: _ Joe, Maria, Jerome, Dion and Aaron Candeloro

_WHERE: _Toodyay, Victoria Plains and Goomalling

_WHAT: _5500ha of wheat, 3500ha of barley and 300ha of canola

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