Hopes for silver lining after dry start

Claire TyrrellCountryman
The West logo

Morawa farmers the Tapscotts are optimistic about the season, despite a lack of rainfall.

Aden Tapscott farms with his parents, Glenn and Tracy, 15km east of Morawa.

Close to 160mm of rain has fallen on their crops this growing season, about 50mm less than they would normally receive by this time of year.

Aden said the season started late for the family, with no significant rainfall until mid-June.

"We are a couple of weeks behind where we would like to be," he said.

"At seeding our inputs were the same as usual but we have not gone back and put any Flexi-N on. I think we are one decent rainfall event away from a solid season. If we get another one or two inches it should be an average year."

About 9mm of rain has fallen on their farm so far this month, including 4mm over the weekend.

The Tapscotts started seeding dry on April 28 but did not get a season-breaking rain until June 10.

Glenn said it was an extremely frustrating start to the season.

"What was usually a two-week seeding program took eight weeks - it was very stop-start," he said.

The family usually averages 1.4 tonnes per hectare on their wheat, and Glenn said a soft finish would get them close to that this year.

Last season the Tapscotts achieved their best yields in three generations on the land, with a 2.98t/ha wheat crop.

The family also runs a flock of 2000 breeding ewes, which include Merinos, Poll Dorsets and Dohnes.

Glenn said lupins were a big part of their program, because of their benefit to crop rotation and stock feed.

"We have given up growing canola and just use lupins as a rotation crop," he said.

"Lupins are great for the sheep. Another reason I grow them is because the wheat crops after lupins are really good."

The last time the family grew canola was in 2010, when Glenn said yields were down but quality was reasonable.

This year the Tapscotts sowed Mace, Bonnie Rock, Wyalkatchem and a small amount of new variety Emu Rock.

Glenn said the new short-season variety Emu Rock looked to be suited to his area, where the season often cuts off in late August.

The family reduced their planned crop by about 700ha this season because of the dry start.

Fast facts *

_WHO: _Glenn, Tracy and Aden Tapscott

_WHAT: _ 3200ha of wheat and 400ha of lupins

_WHERE: _ Morawa

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