Peas set pace for cropping

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Third generation farmer Anthony Watterson has been growing Kaspa peas for the past five years.

"Over the last couple of years, we haven't had enough to worry about selling them, so they've just been used as stock feed," Anthony said.

"This year, hopefully, there will be some to sell because they are making $60 a tonne more than lupins at the moment, but I wouldn't be game enough to forward sell any."

Last year's peas yielded just 400 kilograms per hectare, but in a good year they can return up to two tonnes a hectare.

"Normally we get a good crop after peas in our rotation. Sometimes we use it for a double clean with canola following peas," Anthony said.

This year's 1850ha cropping program on Colby includes wheat, barley, canola and Wandering oats for stock feed.

Australian hard wheat Mace is the main wheat variety grown followed by soft wheat 2248 and Australian premium wheat varieties Espada and Wyalkatchem.

The barley program is focused on malt varieties - two-thirds planted to Gairdner and the rest to Vlamingh.

The aim for this year's cereal crops is to try to lift protein levels for maximum market returns by applying more nitrogen.

"It's always a bit of a guess when you don't know how the season is going to finish, but the potential looks good and the extra they are paying for protein this year could pay off," Anthony said.

Anthony has applied 80kg of K-Till Extra on his wheat with by 50 litres of Flexi-N and fungicide followed by another 40 litres on Mace at eight weeks after germination.

The barley had 80kg of K-Till with Flexi-N and fungicide at seeding plus a top-up of 60 litres with fungicide six weeks after germination and another 10 litres last week.

Anthony has also planted three triazine tolerant varieties - Scadden, Tawriffic and Cobbler - as well as Roundup Ready canola variety 45Y21.

"We had a good result with the GM canola in the first year, but this year it doesn't seem to be quite as good," he said.

"I think we probably went in a bit late for the first spray and too quick for the second one, so its probably just a matter of timing."

Canola was sown with 100kg of Agras and 50 litres of Flexi-N and fungicide plus a top-up of 60 litres of Flexi-N before flowering.

Peas were sown with 60kg of Double Phos.

"We are starting to see a bit of moisture stress in lighter soil, but generally the crops are still holding on very well," Anthony said.

"I'd like to see 30-40mm up to the end of October."

With harvest less than two months away, Anthony has forward contracted some of his crop, using Market Ag.

He has sold a third of the wheat, using a swap and cash, for an average of $322/t, a third of the barley for $308/t and 25 per cent of the canola for $610/t.

The rest will be sold depending on market prices.

Fast facts *

WHO: Anthony Watterson, Colby

WHERE: Gnowangerup

WHAT: Cropping 65 per cent, sheep 35 per cent

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