IN stark contrast to last year's season, crops are looking pretty good at the moment in the Gairdner area.
From March through to July, Jason and Mandy Griffiths' property received 165 millimetres of rain and their 3000 hectare cropping program is well set up and just needs good finishing rains to reach maximum potential.
August has started well, with 30mm received so far this month.
This lift in prospects comes after one of the worst years ever experienced in the area in 2018.
This year the Griffiths' seeding program started on April 24 with barley going in first and seeding was done by May 23.
The program is a mix of 670ha of barley, 1100ha of canola, 1200ha of wheat and 70ha of oats.
Planet makes up all of this year's barley program, with Bonito canola and a mix of Scepter and Eagle Rock for the wheat component.
Mr Griffiths said they had finished their nitrogen application and crops were probably in the decile 8 range.
"There is not much else we can do now but wait and hope we get a good finish," Mr Griffiths said.
"We have noticed low levels of net blotch around but the fungicides went out early so we will keep an eye on it and hopefully it won't be too much of an issue."
The cropping mix on the Griffiths' property has changed over the years, there is now more barley and pastures going in at the expense of canola.
Given they also run 3700 Merino ewes, including the Canowie Fields stud flock, current sheep prices are playing a bigger part in the overall farm set-up.
"We have always played around with seeding pastures, but in the past few years we have ramped that up given where sheep prices sit," Mr Griffiths said.
"The aim is to have 50 per cent of the farm in break using a combination of canola and pastures."
This year, 550ha of pasture has been planted and includes chicory, Lucerne, serradella and balansa.
The increase in barley plantings is also driven by the sheep flock to some extent.
"Barley stubbles have more value for the sheep over summer than wheat and I think this philosophy will also drive us to put more oats in over the coming years," he said.
"Oats offer good stubble value and I think the future of oats is pretty positive from a human consumption point of view.
"Also if we are running more sheep then oats offer you a bit of a get out of jail free card and more flexibility in the system in terms of grazing if the season cuts off."
The Griffiths are also using deferred grazing to really let pastures get away.
They lamb in June/July and confined all the ewes this year until May when they received 41.5mm of rain.
"It is labour intensive when you confine them, but if you can let your pastures get away then it does make such a difference come lambing time," Mr Griffiths said.