A FIFTH generation Toodyay farmer has attempted to grow wheat for the first time.
Michael Wood (fourth generation) and his sons Joe and Jack (fifth generation), are attempting to grow Mace wheat to improve weed control.
Usually the Woods, who run a small cropping and sheep operation mixed with their winery, Coorinja, would put their 210 hectares into oats.
But Mr Wood said this year he had put in 160ha of wheat in order to get on top of brome grass and ryegrass issues.
The remaining 50ha has again been put into oats.
He said with the late breaks to the season in the last few years, it had been hard to get a good knock-down, so he thought he would try wheat.
He said depending on how the wheat went, he may also look at canola next season, which would also be a first for the family.
It is also the first year Mr Wood is trialling Lure H2O in an attempt to hold the sub-soil moisture.
Lure H2O is a soil-applied treatment used to facilitate the intake and retention of rainfall in a soil's profile.
"We have a real problem with water-repellant soils and so far the soil is holding up extremely well," Mr Wood said.
"We have powdered up white gum country running into red gum country and I think lupins - which we won't grow again - add to the problem of water repellency which affects pre-emergence herbicides and germination.
"So this year we have trialled Lure and we are quite impressed with the germination it has produced and the better pre-emergent weed control."
There was a clear difference in the impact of the Lure - the area which had been sprayed was holding up extremely well and had a lot of sub-soil moisture, but the areas which hadn't been sprayed had virtually no sub-soil moisture.
Mr Wood said despite the success of the Lure H2O, the crops still needed a good rain soon.
Their average rainfall in recent years was about 432mm but that was still well down on the long-term average of about 533mm.
He said in recent years the rain pattern was more in the form of severe storms requiring him to form push-up contour banks to protect the country from erosion.
"We would have had more erosion in the last three years than we have had in the last 100," he said.
"I think with the dry seasons, you have less vegetation on grazing country and there is a lot more run-off.
"And we seem to be getting some more severe storms with events like 70mm in about 20 minutes."
Mr Wood also said a lot of his grazing country for his 1200 mated ewes and about 270 ewe weaners, was burnt in the Toodyay fire at the end of 2009.
About half of the sheep were first-cross Prime SAMMs mated back to Prime SAMMs, while the rest were Merinos,
"The Toodyay fire put us back and (the land) won't recover for probably another 10 years," he said.
"The fire got a lot of our grazing land and it has taken a lot of our pasture species out so it is not ideal anymore.
"I think the fire was that hot it has just baked the soil and caused a fair bit of erosion.
"It is very dry country and it needs a lot of rain."
The Woods' farming operation is also unique as he and his two boys try and balance sheep and cropping with their Coorinja Winery.
"But they don't really clash too much," he said.
"Your vineyard work is virtually winter and spring.
"Spring can be a busy time though because we have vineyard work, lambs possibly going, hay to be cut, but the rest of the time is alright, so it works in reasonably well."
He said having the vineyard, which has been in the Wood family since 1919, provided a more steady income compared with cropping and stock, which were always at the mercy of fluctuating prices.
Mr Wood said he was also extremely lucky to have his son Joe back on the family farm full-time while his other son Jack was working between the farm and civil works business, Ringa Drainage and Earthmoving.