WITH the weather warming up in the southern part of WA’s grain belt, harvest is now well underway for the Panizza family that farms at Williams and Arthur River.
Having finished cutting hay about three weeks ago, Bernie and Rachel Panizza with sons Simon and Nick and his wife Jen, started harvesting their GM canola about two and a half weeks ago.
During harvest Bernie drives the truck, Nick and Simon are in the headers, their worker Mirjam Read from Estonia drives the chaser bin and Rachel handles the livestock side of the enterprise.
With about 530 hectares of hay, a good season with little rain meant the Panizzas cut more than 7000 bales of hay which they were pleased with.
When Bernie spoke to Farm Weekly on Monday, they had 40ha of canola left to go at Arthur River with a total canola crop of 1100ha, including GM varieties of GT-53 and 45Y25 and non-GM canola varieties T4510 with a little of Hyola 350TT across Williams and Arthur River.
Bernie said the crop shaped up fairly well with the seasonal conditions and that GM canola was usually quite reliable in the Williams and Arthur River areas.
Yielding at about 2.35 tonnes per hectare for GM canola, Bernie said it compared well with the district average.
Non-GM canola at their Williams property finished off with an average yield of 2.25t/ha, but a few frost spots at Arthur River brought the yield down slightly below average.
“But in saying that (lower than average yield), it wasn’t too bad,” Bernie said.
“Every season is different so if we can get anywhere near (the district average), we will be happy this year.”
Bernie was pleased with the canola crop that went about 45-48 per cent oil.
Opting to swath the GM canola made it the first in line for harvest, which gave time for the non-GM canola to dry off and it was then direct headed.
Also included in the cropping program was 1230ha planted to barley, 400ha of wheat, 100ha of lupins and 600ha of oats.
When canola harvesting is completed the Panizzas will move to lupins and barley.
About two years ago the family made the decision to purchase another header which has helped speed harvest up.
“We were having to work around the clock a fair bit so we decided to get another (harvester) to get the grain off quicker,” Bernie said.
“We found it took the pressure off a bit.”
The farm has operated on an 80pc crop and 20pc sheep rotation for many generations.
“Cropping is in the blood,” Bernie said.
His parents Horace and Sandra still live on and tinker around the farm.
Nick and Simon make up the fourth-generation working the farm, while Nick’s sons Hugo (3) and Wyatt (eight months) could carry the farm onto five generations.
Hugo is already an enthusiastic little farmer who is always keen to get out in the paddock and watch the machinery in action.
The livestock side of the business comprises 5100 breeding ewes of Dohne and Merino cross.
Bernie said with plenty of stubble across the farm, summer feed was not a concern.
“We have also just sown a paddock for a summer crop so if we get any summer rain, then we will also have that for feed,” he said.
December will be a busy month as the Panizzas plan to finish harvest and also start summer shearing late in the month.
“It’s the only time we could shear this year, so hopefully we will be finished harvesting otherwise we will be busy with harvest and shearing,” Bernie said.
“We used to shear in January but it was interrupting with when we wanted to mate the sheep and other things.
“We swapped to summer shearing about five years ago but we want to go back to spring shearing because it fits in better with the rest of our management.”