BREMER Bay farmer Noel Keding’s decision to trial new wheat variety Havoc last season paid off, with the cultivar offering an ideal maturity and producing the highest yields.
Mr Keding, who runs a 4500 hectare sheep and crop property with his fiancé Nicole and his parents Brian and Julie, said one of the main benefits of Havoc was its quick maturity.
“We’re lucky we don’t get frost down here, so we are pushing our seeding times further and further forward,” Mr Keding said.
“I like that it’s a shorter season, so I can get it in, get it up and get it off.
“Nearly a third of our rainfall is during summer months, so harvesting for us on the south coast here can be a nightmare.”
Mr Keding planted one tonne of Havoc seed over 14ha in mid-June along with his commercial crops of Ninja, Zen, Cobra and King Rock.
When they finished harvesting on December 28, Havoc topped the farm with an average yield of 2.6 tonnes per hectare, while the other varieties planted adjacent averaged 2.2t/ha.
“For the past five years it’s been over three tonnes, but our long-term average would be 2.5t/ha,” he said.
“We’re a 450 millimetre annual rainfall and 300mm growing season rainfall area.
“Our yields are slowly going up with our soil health.
“Obviously, technology is getting better, seeding times are getting more organised too.”
Mr Keding said the season was not without its challenges, with wild weather and a 100mm drop in growing season rain.
“We had three really bad wind events that absolutely caned us and low rainfall obviously,’’ he said.
“It didn’t really start raining until August, so we had very late germinations, it was hard to get on top of the weeds and sheep feed was non-existent, so it’s been pretty tough.
“It was probably the toughest season in 20-25 years.”
Despite all this Mr Keding remains optimistic and is focused on improving soil health and his cereals program.
“We’re focused on building up the organic matter in the soil as well as stubble retention,” he said.
“We recently bought a Shelbourne Reynolds XCV 42 stripper header and CLAAS combine, which leaves more straw to protect from erosion.”
Mr Keding said since 2018’s bulk up of Havoc was so successful, he will plant half the program to it this season.
“We harvested 36 tonnes, so if we sow at 75 kilograms a hectare, that should plant over 480ha,” he said.
Havoc is marketed by Pacific Seeds, bred by LongReach Plant Breeders and is free to trade farmer-to-farmer.