Jondaryan district farmer Geoff Pedler is always eager to trial new organic niche markets.
And now, his latest venture is trying his hand at growing the ancient Egyptian Kamut wheat variety.
Also known as Khorason wheat and marketed commercially as the “Kamut brand”, it is used similarly as modern wheat and the grains can be either directly consumed or milled into flour.
It is well known for its smooth texture and its nutty, buttery flavour, but the content of tannin is lower than modern wheat.
Kamut does contain gluten, however, many people with sensitivities to modern wheat report being able to consume it.
Geoff planted 50 hectares into fallow and some stubble ground at the beginning of July.
“We had to wait all through June for enough rain and sub soil moisture to plant,” Geoff said.
Now just two weeks from harvesting his crop, Geoff is anticipating a good result.
“It really is all trial and error, but I really like trying niche markets,” Geoff said.
He is hoping to yield about 2.47 tonne/hectare.
Together with his wife Gayle, who live on the home property Trevalsa, the couple farm over four properties in the district.
However, it is on their organic certified property Avondale, that the couple is trialling this new opportunity.
Prior to planting the Kamut, between 2.5 to 5 tonnes per hectare of organic compost was applied, depending on soil test results.
“We are building up a lot of nitrogen in the ground through our farming practices,” Geoff said.
The Pedlers have forward sold the crop to Kialla Pure Foods, Greenmount, for $900/tonne, and grown under certified organic USDA specifications.
Once harvested, the seed will be cleaned at Kialla Pure Foods, and exported to the lucrative United States and EU markets.
Geoff is one of seven farmers on the eastern coast of Australia, currently trialling Kamut for Kialla Pure Foods.
He has also grown 17ha of organic Spitfire wheat, which is due to be harvested and will also be sold to Kialla Pure Foods.
As well he has planted organic popcorn three weeks ago, again for the Kialla market.
Geoff initially went into organic farming after seeing the marked difference in price received for speciality organic grains.
Geoff is a big fan of using compost as fertiliser to improve the health of his soil, and having experimented with types of compost and studied the results, he believes it is the answer to growing better crops.
He is very interested in the future prospects for organics in Australia and likes to work with and encourage other farmers to become organically certified.
According to Kialla Pure Foods, Quentin Kennedy, Kamut has a high brand recognition overseas.
“It is a pure strain of ancient grain that has been rediscovered in recent years,” Mr Kennedy said.