Maranoa grain growers take risk on bleak season

Maranoa grain growers take risk on 'toughest plant yet'


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Gavin Burey, Maree Downs, Amby in his wheat September last year. He is hoping to pull off an average crop this winter.

Gavin Burey, Maree Downs, Amby in his wheat September last year. He is hoping to pull off an average crop this winter.

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An Amby grower was down eight inches to find moisture.

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STRONG grain prices have persuaded Maranoa growers to risk the bleak winter outlook and plant on their limited soil moisture.

Amby grain grower Gavin Burey finished planting 5000 acres of wheat and 1000 acres of chickpea on May 31.

It was the conclusion of a three week plant, which he described as the toughest he had been through. 

“We were down eight inches to source moisture,” Mr Burey said.

“It planted into good moisture because we got three foot of mud, just that top five to six inches was rock hard. 

“It was very hard on machinery and made for a slow plant.” 

Mr Burey purchased a vacant former GrainCorp depot, at Muckadilla, in July last year.

Mr Burey purchased a vacant former GrainCorp depot, at Muckadilla, in July last year.

With soil moisture built up from their last rain in March rapidly decreasing, Mr Burey said they couldn’t have planted any later.

Feed grain delivered on the Darling Downs is currently worth about $410, meaning even an average crop would make Mr Burey happy.

“Even at a tonne to the hectare, at $400 a tonne, it’s still not too bad (cost wise),” he said. “It’s still worth taking a risk on.” 

Landmark Roma agronomist Craig Miller said a lot of growers had planted wheat over the last few weeks, and more recently chickpeas.

But, he said, there were a lot less crops in the ground than the same time last year. 

“No one is really happy with the conditions of it, but the fact they could get a crop in the ground on time is a bonus of it,” he said.

“There is a lot of country, if it did rain, there would be big rush to put wheat in.

“Wheat is worth a fair bit, so they’d be happy to take the risk.”  

Mr Burey, who owns the 4000 hectare property Maree Downs, also purchased a vacant former GrainCorp depot, at Muckadilla, in July last year.

The site features two 2500 tonne silos and a 5000 tonne storage shed.

Of the wheat he had stored, buyer fears of short supplies has left him busy delivering orders.

But, he remained optimistic for a change in the current season.

“Surely we must be getting close to a 10mm or 20mm fall and all we need is secondary root development to make use of soil moisture,” Mr Burey said.  

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