Devil in the detail for Keeffe family

Claire TyrrellCountryman

It was a matter of being under the right cloud for Kim Keeffe, whose property received up to 31mm of rain at the weekend.

The skies opened up on Saturday evening and continued until Monday morning, with huge variation across his farm.

“We had 31mm in one gauge, and in others we had 20mm, 10mm and 8mm,” Kim said.

“The eastern part of the farm received the most rain.”

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Patchy rainfall on Monday delivered a further 2mm to the Keeffe’s property and the rain clouds dissipated by Tuesday.

Kim farms with his wife Robin, son Simon and Simon’s partner, Miki Wurster, on a 4000 hectare block 20km south of Mullewa.

The family sowed two-thirds of their crop dry before the rain fell.

“We were waiting to see what happened, but now we’ve got that rain, we’ll just keep going,” Kim said.

“We still had 900ha to go when we got the 20mm and 30mm. We seeded the area that had 8mm and hopefully that rain should bring it up.”

The Keeffes received up to 130mm of rain over the summer and Kim said recent rains would consolidate this.

“This rain gives us more confidence on top of the summer rain,” he said.

“If we get all of our crop in by the end of May, we should be set up.”

The family expects to finish the program by the start of next week, with 700ha of wheat and 200ha of chickpeas to go.

Kim said it was the first time he had grown a significant chickpea crop since ascochyta blight ruined the crop in the late 1990s.

“Chickpeas used to be our most profitable crop before ascochyta blight got hold of them,” he said.

“We grew 50ha last year to bulk up for seed and we’re putting 200ha in this year.”

Canola is once again part of the program for the Keeffes, who planted the crop for the first time since 2006.

Kim said he saw the high canola price as a bonus and he mainly saw it as a break crop.

The Keeffes run 800 Merino wethers, which they bought late last year.

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