Yields down but prices the saviour

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Mingenew farmer Gerard Rowe has had little time to reflect on the past season, because he needs to make the most of recent summer rains.

More than 50mm fell on Mr Rowe’s farm in mid December, as monsoonal rains moved south from Carnarvon.

Mr Rowe said he hoped the trend would continue in coming months.

“I’m hoping we’ll get a bit of summer rain, so we can conserve as much of it as we can,” he said.

“It will mean we’ll be busy spraying for weeds and melons.”

Mr Rowe finished the season with reasonable crop from his 3140 hectares of wheat and 1200ha of lupins, and higher than expected returns.

“With the prices the way they were, the season ended up better than what people thought,” he said.

“Yields weren’t as good as what they looked in the paddock, but the prices were good.”

Mr Rowe’s wheat varied from 1.3 to 1.8 tonnes per hectare, with the best crops on last year’s pasture paddocks.

His lupin crop averaged about one tonne to the hectare, which he said was good considering the dry season.

About 230mm fell on the farm during the growing season, about 100mm short of the average.

This year, Mr Rowe planted 60ha of chickpeas for the first time in more than a decade.

While they did not perform well this season, Mr Rowe said he believed the crop showed promise for next year.

“Chickpeas went at about 600–700kg per hectare and we kept them in the silo for seed,” he said.

“We’re going to put in about 400ha of chickpeas next year.”

Mr Rowe said he would bring canola back into the rotation in 2011, with a 300ha canola program planned.

However, he said input costs were at the forefront of his mind as he prepared for this year’s crop.

“Hopefully, the grain price remains high and the cost of inputs doesn’t rise with it,” he said.

“After the year just gone, we don’t want to be spending too much money to make up for it.”

Mr Rowe was yet to calculate his earnings from 2010, but said he would be near break-even levels.

He farms in partnership with his brother, Scott, and father-in-law, Adrian Morgan.

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