Roller coaster season set to end on high

Jo FulwoodCountryman

It has been a roller coaster season for Brookton farmers Brad and Holly Bassett.

After the lowest June rainfall recording in the last 10 years, followed closely by the highest rainfall recording for July, crops and stock feed are looking better than average and Mr Bassett still has his fingers crossed for one of the best seasons on record.

"Things are looking pretty good at the moment, there will be some great yields from many farms around here. It is as good as we have had for a long time," he said.

"The canola should be above average. Just going off the rainfall that we have had for the year we could end up with between 1.5 t/ha and 2 t/ha. I know some farms in 2007 and 2008 achieved 2 t/ha over their canola, so there is no reason why that can't happen here.

"But until we get the header in the paddock we won't know for sure."

Mr Bassett farms 2760 ha in partnership with his parents Lynne and Richie, and brother Jason.

So far this year his property has received 381mm against an annual district average of 427mm.

And while the season is so far back on track, the roller coaster ride will continue until the frost window closes which, according to Mr Bassett, is still a few weeks away.

"It will be another two weeks until we are out of the frost window, we still have wheat flowering at the moment," he said.

"In 2008 we had wheat that came in at 200 kg/ha. That's the worst I've experienced. And in a small patch that didn't get frosted, that same crop went 5 t/ha."

Issues with frost and non-wetting soils mean the Bassetts have a mixed cropping and livestock enterprise.

They run 2980 Merino ewes, 1300 Merino lambs, 1050 crossbred lambs, and 430 Dorper ewes plus lambs for both meat and wool.

The cropping program is a mix of barley, wheat, oats and canola.

"We've got a good mix because of that frost risk. We've hung in there with sheep and although some years we haven't made a lot of money, sheep don't get frosted, and you've always got something to sell," Mr Bassett said

"It's a challenging mix sometimes, but crops at 200 kilos are not very profitable and sheep prices haven't been too bad the last couple of years."

"In June we bought in lupins and hay because our reserves were getting very low and we were still feeding sheep at that stage, then it turned around and rained, and the pastures took off just as much as the crops did."

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