Problems plague Western Downs winter crops

Feral pests decimate wheat crop

Cropping
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The true extent of damage caused by the pests has became apparent as harvesters took to winter crops this month.

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Ollie, 5, and Lucas Price, 3, in Flanker wheat at Cambridge Downs, Surat. Picture: Tayla Price

Ollie, 5, and Lucas Price, 3, in Flanker wheat at Cambridge Downs, Surat. Picture: Tayla Price

As if the drought wasn't enough to contend with, winter crops on the Western Downs have been plagued by feral pigs and kangaroos searching for any patch of green.

For the Price family, Cambridge Downs, Surat, the true extent of damage caused by the pests became apparent when they harvested their crop of Flanker wheat this month.

"We put in 808 hectares and the header went over 460 hectares, so it was just over half that the roos and the pigs haven't eaten," Tayla Price said.

"Yields were pretty terrible; it went anywhere from half a tonne to the hectare, to 1.2 tonne to the hectare.

"It was very patchy and we definitely didn't get as much off as we would have liked, but I guess we were just grateful to get anything off this year."

Ms Price said an exclusion fence was now on the top of their to-do list.

Capping off the less-than-ideal season, Ms Price said the header had only been in the paddock for an hour when the heavens opened.

Severe storm cells that lashed the Darling Downs in early October dumped 50mm of rain on one paddock at Cambridge Downs, while just 2mm fell across the road.

"We were dropping a sample of the crop to Meandarra depot and while we were sitting there waiting, we got a phone call from our header driver saying that he's pulled up and there was eight to 10mm hail stones.

"And it was pretty much just in the paddock that he was in."

Ms Price said they had planted their winter crop on a full profile and received just 5mm of in-crop rain.

"We need 250mm to be able to plant a summer crop; if we get that, we'll definitely put a bit of grain sorghum in."

For now, the Prices are storing what they were able to harvest and watching the feedlot market to see what prices will do as feed supply tightens in the coming months.

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