Time the essence for success

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

It's been a slow start to the season for the Whitfield family but good August rains have put a spring in Peter Whitfield's step.

The Konnongorring farmer said his crops were looking good but they were six weeks behind where they should be.

"It does look quite good but you've just got to keep pinching yourself," he said.

"We're running out of time and the season is so late that if it cuts off we're in trouble."

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Peter, who farms with his wife, Sian, and parents Charles and Carmel, picked up just 14.6mm in the rain gauge in July and until it rained in August things were looking a little bleak.

August has delivered almost 57mm, making the world of difference to the family's crops but Peter doubts it will be enough to bring them up to an average yield.

Depending on spring rainfall, Peter estimates the family's cereals could range from 1.6 to 2.2 tonnes but he is not sure how the canola will fair.

"The canola has just started to flower - it was dry-seeded and it's pretty patchy," Peter said.

"We didn't have much rain in May so it didn't get going well.

"We're just holding on to see how it all ends up. We're not getting over-excited.

"We've resigned ourselves to the fact it's going to be below average but the result may be OK with the grain prices.

"Whatever the result, we're definitely not complaining, there are places worse off."

Regardless of what it might yield, Peter and Sian's three daughters, Sophie, Bridget and Phoebe, love the bright bloom of flowering canola paddocks.

When asked about their favourite thing to do at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days the consensus was clear - eat ice-cream.

It seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as Peter recalled his childhood memories of climbing over the machinery, ice-cream in hand.

Peter has been going to the field days most of his life and he said he had barely missed a year.

But these days he is more interested in the machinery than the ice creams.

"We always like to see what's there, and the machines just keep getting bigger, with more horsepower and wider," he said.

"The little girls love climbing over the machines - they're pretty excited and can't wait to go.

"The event is really good for the town of Dowerin and all their community bodies but I find it a really good social event.

"You can go and catch up with people you haven't seen for a year or so."

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