Season rests in hands of frost

Corrina RidgwayCountryman

Both garden and grain crops on Jan and Mark Biven's Beaumont property Paningunya are promising to be bountiful at harvest.

After three years of poor rainfall, 350mm for the growing season has re-established dead lawns and produced seamless paddocks of green and gold.

With their son Nick Biven, the couple seeded 2200ha in total, comprising 880ha Mace wheat, 950ha Telfer canola, 680ha Bass barley, 480ha Hindmarsh barley and 220ha of Gunyah and Twilight field peas.

After recording 149mm of rain in March, the family started seeding in mid-April.

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"We started seeding on April 18 with canola," Mark said.

"It was a bit dry on top until halfway through the first paddock, when we got a good, soaking rain."

Done and dusted by May 13, the entire seeding process was one of the smoothest in memory for the family.

"Seeding was very smooth, we didn't have a problem," Nick said. "It was relaxed, we had to slow down a bit."

After just the second year in a full crop rotation, yields across the property are shaping up to be some of the best on record.

"The field peas are looking to be possibly the best we have had - but that's dependent on frost," Mark said.

"The canola started flowering mid June and is still going. There's over two foot of pod on there now."

Wheat has been equally impressive. Mace wheat was sown from May 3 into canola stubble with 60kg/ha MAP and 50kg/ha urea.

Parts of the program received another 30kg/ha after sowing.

Ideal conditions have prompted the emergence of aphids in the cereals, which are being aerially sprayed.

"It's been too moist to spray insecticides until recently," Mark said. "We have just found some Septoria in the wheat as well, which we will apply some fungicide to."

With soil profiles wet through, further rains will be of little use.

"We are fairly good for moisture," Mark said.

"Maybe a little in three weeks would finish things off perfectly, but it's not overly essential."

The largest hurdle for the growing season now rests in the icy hands of frost.

"We delayed the wheat at seeding with frost in mind," Mark said.

"Usually we don't have much of a risk, though you never know. It has happened before."

The Bivens now have their sights set on harvest.

"I'd hope we could average 3.5t/ha on our wheat," Nick said. "Considering we averaged 3t/ha last year, that's probably a safe bet."

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