IT WAS April when Peter Foxwell, Alton Downs, was still planting corn – the latest he has ever planted.
But the gamble on the back of 400mm of rain from tropical cyclone Debbie is paying off in spades – with what he said was one of his best corn crops in 25 years.
Mr Foxwell said he only has about 40 hectares of corn in this year, after most of his 300ha property was tied up with dryland cotton.
He said the corn is destined for the feed market, and he supplies a local buyer.
Mr Foxwell was not always growing corn for cattle feed though – for many years he grew a particular variety specifically for the racing pigeon industry.
Harvesting will begin for the corn in September.
“We planted on about 150mm and it was really wet, and then we got halfway through planting and it started to rain again - we got another 250mm on top of it,” Mr Foxwell said.
”After 400mm we decided we would put the rest of the paddock in because I had fertiliser in the ground and seed in the shed.
“It is going to pay off - it has been very good.”
He said the decision to plant corn came easily.
“I didn’t want to plant chickpeas with the fertiliser in the ground - I had a lot of nitrogen - and I didn’t think a legume would be the best choice,” he said.
“And only (40 hectares) of chickpeas might have been a bit hard to market.
“Corn is something we’ve done for many, many years and we’re reasonable at it - providing it rains at the right time.
“A good, soaking rain would be good at the moment.”
Mr Foxwell said the corn crop worked well in rotation with the cotton, but the family also grow mungbeans, wheat, and other opportunity crops.
My Foxwell is heavily involved with the CQUniversity, and regularly is involved in trials.
He said in the past five years, he has grown trial dryland rice crops, as well as being involved in soil moisture data collection trials.
He said while dryland farming did leave him at the mercy of the weather – there was always options available.
“If it rains in November/December we can put cotton in, if it rains January we can put mungbeans in, if it rains February we can put corn in; we have plenty of options.”