AFTER a winter growing season of little rainfall and mixed temperatures capped off by late storms, just harvesting an average crop was a winner for most south western growers.
But Roma grain grower John Hays had extra reason to smile as he finished harvesting a high grade chickpea crop which he doesn’t expect to have any quality discounts.
Contract header Kerry Sheahan was in full swing when the Queensland Country Life visited Mr Hay’s 1647 hectare property, Somerset, south west of Roma, on November 2, the second last day of harvest.
About 740 hectares of Somerset is farmed with 340 hectares of Kyabra chickpeas and 327 hectares of wheat planted in the middle of May. The remainder is planted with oats.
They received about 19mm of in crop rain before the arrival of 74mm in October which put a dampener on their impending harvest.
The badly timed wet event impacted the wheat’s test weight which Mr Hays predicts dropped from about 82 to 76.
While the wheat yielded 6.5 bags to the acre the results were less than half of the bumper winter last year where Mr Hays’ wheat yielded 18 bags to the acre.
In the middle of last year’s winter growing season Mr Hays put a large amount of nitrogen into his rotational paddocks. This year he planted on a full profile with the chickpeas planted at about 75kg to the hectare.
The chickpeas were the biggest winner for Mr Hays in 2017 and were expected to yield about 1.2 tonne to the hectare or six bags to the acre.
He said they were even more lucky to have harvested their chickpeas without any downgrading.
“We are getting in the pile one and it’s not cracking,” he said.
“We have been lucky but every one was lucky last year, they had a lot of moisture. This year it’s been touchy weather wise.
“It is a good little bit of dirt here though, that paddock went three tonne to the hectare but overall it averaged 1.2 tonne to the hectare.”
He said there was plenty of worry in their household the week earlier after receiving 25mm in the last shower of rain but thankfully the ground had dried relatively quickly.
“Plus we had to spray this crop out with roundup to kill the stuff starting to grow again,” he said.
The chickpeas were headed to GrainCorp while the wheat had been sold direct to a feedlot.