Season of record firsts

Corrina RidgwayCountryman
Mick and Oscar Liebeck are delighted with their harvest.
Camera IconMick and Oscar Liebeck are delighted with their harvest. Credit: Corrina Ridgway/Countryman

"Unheard of" were the words used to describe the most consistently high-yielding harvest Mick Liebeck has laid eyes upon.

With wife Monika and son Oscar, the Scaddan trio are still in slight disbelief at the speed silos have filled this season.

The Liebecks' 4400ha program was split between 2100ha Mace and Eaglerock wheat, 1200ha Stingray and Crusher canola, 600ha Bass barley, 300ha peas and 200ha lupins.

Harvest started in mid-October, slightly later than other areas in the region, and canola was first into the bins.

"We had 600ha of Stingray canola average 1.7 tonnes per hectare, which is amazing," Mr Liebeck said.

"Even the Crusher that got a bit wet went 1.2 to 1.3 tonnes/ha - you can't complain about that."

Bass barley yields were around 3.8 tonnes/ha.

An extremely pleasing 80 per cent was delivered to the malting division.

With talk of Bass paying a varietal premium for malting grade within the next few seasons, Mr Liebeck is happy to keep it in the rotation.

"It's also a good variety that really doesn't take a lot of managing," he said.

"There's not much needed to control fungicide and disease resistance with Bass."

Although the barley returns were well received, the best was still to come.

Mr Liebeck said wheat had literally poured into the line of field bins.

"So far we have taken off over 2000ha of Mace and Eaglerock wheat and it's averaging 4 tonnes/ha," he said.

"We have never done that before."

Grades have been a little mixed due to differing protein levels on a milder growing season, varying between Australian Premium White 2, Hard 2 and Australian Standard White.

Born and bred in Scaddan, Mr Liebeck said yields across the farm had been the most consistent and highest he has seen and he is unlikely to take it for granted.

"I can remember, well, just a few years back, getting 300kg/ha of barley on some of the same paddocks we are getting patches of 4.5 to 5 tonnes of wheat on - that's a good one to keep in memory bank, it can change so fast," he said.

Mr Liebeck said they had been lucky with the amount and timeliness of rainfall received during the seasons and management decisions that came off well with the extra moisture.

"We put on a bit extra nitrogen in the last application and it was the right thing to do in this case. I have done it before and it's not come off so well," he said.

With the future in mind Mr Liebeck believes it will be a good year to pay off some core debt, consolidating operations for what may lay ahead.

Mr Liebeck said the family had just over a day of harvest to go after recent rain delayed the wrap up of the remaining five hours of wheat and a day's worth of lupins.

"We would have been finished about a week ago but we had 10mm a week ago and a further 15mm on Saturday morning," he said.

Mr Liebeck said weed control for the coming season had already begun with the first paddock under the boom spray on Monday.

_FAST FACTS _

Who * Mick, Monika and Oscar Liebeck

What * Rotational cropping

Where * Scaddan

Ha * 4400Ha

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