Milestone year for Stephen

30 Nov, 2016 08:00 AM
Bruce Rock grower Stephen Strange.
Bruce Rock grower Stephen Strange.

IT has been a year of milestones for Bruce Rock grower Stephen Strange.

This year marked the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of the family farm Cotswald, at Bruce Rock, which he farms with wife Karen, son Leigh and daughter in-law Deanne.

Stephen turned 60 two weeks ago and he and wife Karen have been married for 40 years.

It was also a milestone in terms of their oat crop - this is the first time in 20 years the family decided to give them a go and they weren't disappointed.

"This year we dipped our toes in the water again after 15 or 20 years," he said.

"We only had a modest 110 hectares, but the crop went incredibly well and averaged 3.7 tonnes per hectare.

"We are very pleased and at $230 per tonne it's a very good return."

When Farm Weekly visited the family was 20 per cent through its harvest program, and like oats the canola was also proving to be ahead this year.

"Our GT-41 is going better than expected - we're about two-thirds of the way through one paddock and we are sitting on 1.9t/ha, which is about as high as we get for canola here," he said.

"We're very pleased with the genetically modified varieties and the way they are developing and getting better and better with yields as well as the increased advantage of targeting the weeds."

Like many in the area, frost has had a significant impact with about 80 per cent of the wheat and barley crops affected.

"It's hard to put an estimate on what you've lost because you don't know what it was going to yield in the first place, but we estimate we've lost 1t/ha in our barley," he said.

"However, in the average to above-average areas the quality has been terrific - the best we've had in some time.

"Wheat will be the interesting one and we are hearing a lot about frost-affected grains and weight issues, but we won't know for another week."

Stephen said the family would consider planting more oats in the worst frost-affected areas in 2017.

"In recent years our planning has been terrific in terms of our soil preparation to retain soil moisture, selecting crops for different paddocks - I don't think we could have done better," he said.

"What I am doing is thinking more about technology and the investments governments say they are making in science and we are looking into the salt, drought and frost-tolerant crops and GM technology - that will be our next big step."



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