FOR THE COUNTRYMAN. Pictured - Thomas and Jaymie Piesse with daughter Ruby (1)

Williams farming family celebrate “unreal” start to the 2021 growing season

Main Image: FOR THE COUNTRYMAN. Pictured - Thomas and Jaymie Piesse with daughter Ruby (1) Credit: The West Australian, Daniel Wilkins

Email Shannon Verhagen

For Williams grain and sheep farmer Tom Piesse, coming back to the family farm was always part of the plan.

After gaining his mechanic’s apprenticeship, the fourth-generation grower returned to the property he grew up on to work side-by-side with his father Bill more than a decade ago.

The freedom, variety and challenge presented by farming fuelled his passion for life on the land.

He is joined on-farm by his wife Jaymie, their daughter Ruby, 1, and his parents Bill and Beth.

The tight-knit farming family are cropping wheat, barley, lupins, canola and oats, as well as running a flock of Merinos together on their property between Williams and Wagin.

Ruby Piesse, 1.
Camera IconRuby Piesse, 1. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian, Daniel Wilkins Picture: Daniel Wilkins

They are also keen on their sport, with Mr Piesse suiting up for the Williams Cats for as long as he can remember, and Mrs Piesse — who grew up on a mixed sheep and cropping farm near Harrismith — a netballer for the Williams Netball Club.

Like many in the grainbelt, they are this year celebrating a start to the grain growing season unheard of in recent years, with the property notching up 120mm of rain for April-May this year, up from 25mm in the same time frame in 2020.

“It’s been an unreal start — a perfect start, really,” Mr Piesse said. “About April 10 we had 30-50mm — that kicked things into gear nicely.

“About 80-90 per cent of our seeding in the past two years has been completely dry, so it was a good change.

It got pretty wet, it almost got too wet in parts, but you’ve got to be careful what you complain about. At the end of the day, you take it over the dry.

Tom Piesse
Thomas and Jaymie Piesse with daughter Ruby, 11.
Camera IconThomas and Jaymie Piesse with daughter Ruby, 11. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian, Daniel Wilkins Picture: Daniel Wilkins

The family got off to an early start in the seeder, getting crops in the ground from April 7, and wrapping up on May 29.

With a handy dose of subsoil moisture and warm weather, the crops have since germinated in fine fashion.

And the newest generation of the Piesse family, above, was there to lend an eye to check their progress.

Ruby Piesse, 1.
Camera IconRuby Piesse, 1. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian, Daniel Wilkins Picture: Daniel Wilkins

With certain parts of the property — which they doubled in size six years ago when the opportunity arose to acquire neighbouring land — prone to frost, Mr Piesse said they had adapted their rotation accordingly.

“On some of our frostier country, we’ve been leaning towards oats,” he said.

“They give us a good early sowing opportunity — less frost risk.

“In the past we put lupins and canola in ... and until late April we’re a bit hesitant to put barley and wheat in the ground.

“Oats gives us a good couple of weeks to get hectares in the ground — they seem to do well when you put them in early.”

He said right across the Wheatbelt, people were feeling hopeful for the season ahead.

Everything’s looking positive now, especially with the grain prices. Across the Wheatbelt, it’s a very good start.

Tom Piesse