Spirits high as Dowerin heads into field days

Ann RawlingsCountryman
Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days chairman Nadine McMorran and her daughter Ciara, 5.
Camera IconDowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days chairman Nadine McMorran and her daughter Ciara, 5. Credit: Ann Rawlings

The field days season is upon WA, with the small but tight-knit community of Dowerin well into plans to host its biggest annual event.

Seeding is complete and spraying efforts have ramped up, with the season’s opening rain hitting fields across the district at the end of May.

Just south of Dowerin, Ucarty farmers Nadine and Josh McMorran manage a diverse operation of crops and cattle.

Close to 4500ha are accounted for in this year’s cropping program, an area that traverses three properties, two of which are leased by the family.

Ms McMorran, also the new chairwoman of Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days, said seeding had finished several weeks ago, with 70mm of rain since May 25 helping to speed up germination. “We reduced our canola program by 40 per cent, which allowed us to sow more barley and oats,” she said.

“Everything has germinated, even the Seradella, which Josh is happy about.”

This season’s wheat plantings include 1040ha of Australian Hard varieties Mace and Scepter and 400ha of noodle variety Zen, plus 480ha of Bonito canola.

Their barley team comprises 600ha of Spartacus and 230ha of Scope, with 200ha of Gunyidi lupins and 250ha of Carrolup oats rounding out the program.

A further 220ha of hay is grown for export and 360ha have been seeded to pasture, with the Margurita Serradella proving to be popular with their 150-head herd of cattle.

They run the business alongside Mr McMorran’s father, Robert, and with the help of full-time worker Sloan King, with this week’s knockdown efforts targeting radish and capeweed within their cereal crops.

“Sloan operates the Miller Nitro, while Robert and Josh operate a trailed Hardi boomspray,” Ms McMorran said.

Their cattle operation comprises Murray Grey and Angus cows, with Black Angus bulls as well as Black and traditional Simmental bulls going over the herd each year.

With calving starting mid April, Ms McMorran said it was a fun time of year, particularly for the couple’s three daughters. “My girls love the cattle,” she said. “They feed them and know more about them than me.”

For the McMorrans, who recently crossed the Tasman to attend New Zealand’s Fieldays in Mystery Creek, the start of the year has, so far, been positive in terms of rainfall, with their 10-year growing season average totalling 225mm.

“It has been a better start to this year. Last year, you couldn’t look outside, there wasn’t anything growing,” Ms McMorran said.

“It gets everyone’s spirits up, but that’s farming, isn’t it? That’s the gamble everyone plays every year.” Another positive start to the year has been in terms of how warmly the Dowerin Field Days’ theme of “Women in Agriculture” had been received, a topic that is close to Ms McMorran’s heart.

“I am passionate about field days and I love what it does for rural WA,” she said.

“I think it was my time (to be chairwoman). I feel ready (for this role). Having three daughters, I want to show them that if you get an opportunity like this, to jump in and have a go.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails