THE full extent of damage from this season’s challenges, including frost, bugs and dry weather, won’t be known until harvest gets underway for Quairading farmer Haydyn Richards.
While some of the damage is already noticeable, Mr Richards said it was impossible to know how widespread it was and the impact it would have on quality and yield.
“Another negative for this season’s crops are how dirty they are,” Mr Richards said.
“The chemicals just didn’t seem to work as well, whether that was down to the weather I’m not sure.
“We are in a pretty reliable area here rainfall wise, but there are challenges whereever you farm and frost is a big one here.”
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development website recorded the Quairading temperature below 20C for 200 minutes on September 15.
“I think we had a bit, but we will see when the crop comes off,” Mr Richards said.
“Fingers crossed it’s no where near as bad as 2016.
“Some canola I walk through I can see empty heads, probably about 50 hectares, but I won’t know how widespread it is until we get into it and hopefully it’s just confined to the valleys.”
Mr Richards’ canola has suffered from frost and bugs this year.
He spent one day last week spraying for aphids and budworms which he said was later than expected.
“I was talking to our agronomist and he said that budworms seem to be everywhere this year,” Mr Richards said.
“Last year it was Diamondback moths and now this year it’s aphids and budworms.”
Some of Mr Richards’ cereal crops, which have been pastures for the past two years, were set back by redlegged earth mite earlier in the year.
“They were all over that,” he said.
“They held it back big time, but it might have been a blessing because it escaped the frost.
“Anything that wasn’t pasture previously wasn’t too bad and there was a little Lucerne flea around, but they haven’t done a lot of damage because I managed to spray them out in time.”
The dry start to the year turned around when Mr Richards recorded 67 millimetres of rain for July and another 58mm in August.
“It has been a good year for rainfall once we got past the dry start,” he said.
“September was pretty dry, we had about 2-3mm and it was looking a bit worrying.
“But October has been pretty good with 22mm, including 3mm last Wednesday, which has bought on a beautiful, soft finish.”
Mr Richards said the rain was promising for any crops still green but his barley was going off quickly.
Over the 4856 hectare farm Mr Richards grows wheat, lupin, canola, barley and oats, as well as running sheep with his parents Greg and Robyn and his wife Jess.
He baled 80 hectares of oats to hay last week with close to 800 bales trumping their 670 bales last year.
The hay will be used to feed the 4000 sheep run on the property.
“We buy Merinos in and breed fat lambs so pretty much they are all mated to Poll Dorsets and south Suffolks,” Mr Richards said.
Hoping to start harvest by the end of the month, Mr Richards will start by spray-topping his lupins next week and wait for the canola to dry out before direct heading it.
In recent years Mr Richards has started harvest on October 27, but this year may be later due to an excellent October.
“I have just been ‘tonking’ away at the header for the past few weeks and getting everything ready, as well as spraying,” he said.
“I completed a diesel mechanic apprenticeship with Westrac and worked for them for another three years before I came home.
“It’s really helpful on the farm and I try and do what I can to the machinery, but a lot of the new gear is pretty technical and you need a laptop to fix it – but anything I can do, I do myself.”