FARMING has always been about so much more than putting a crop into the ground and hoping it grows, with farmers having to be across a vast array of information to really do their jobs well.
For the Packham brothers, Greg and Michael, at Tammin that has been especially true this season with the duo keeping a close eye on the world stage to inform their decisions.
Of most importance has been the situation in Ukraine with the invasion by Russia which has already influenced their decision making when it comes to pricing and forward selling.
On top of that, North America's crop is not in a great state at this stage, which has also affected prices and caused the Packhams to think about when they should pull the trigger on pre-selling.
"The prices are very exciting, so it's about trying to get a good number without being too greedy," Michael said.
"We have sold a little bit so far, in about the mid to high $300s for wheat, which even now we're questioning if that's a good price."
The high commodity prices have also dictated the Packham's crop rotation, with the decision made to keep more hectares in wheat, rather than barley.
"We do grow a little bit of canola, but as we're not big growers and given seed was hard to get a hold of, we haven't swung into that much," Michael said.
"We'll be sticking with wheat and planting less barley, particularly on paddocks which might not perform as well given input prices, particularly fertiliser, are also high."
The cost of inputs - which like commodity prices are influenced by global factors - have also weighed on the brothers' minds and caused them to take a closer look at how they use their chemicals.
They were able to lock in a price for herbicide in the back half of last year which was a bonus and this season it is all about using chemicals smarter than they ever have before.
Since October 28, the Packhams have received just 47 millimetres of rain which only started accumulating in March.
While it has been a little bit drier than some other parts of WA, they've had a really good germination of winter weeds including ryegrass, barley grass, cape weed and radish.
"It's been an absolute golden opportunity to get a knock on those which sets us up beautifully to get a double knock down when we sow," Greg said.
"It means we might be able to save a little bit of money by sticking with the more traditional chemicals upfront and saving the more expensive options, such as Sakura and Mateno Complete, for where we really need it for the extra control."
The Packhams may not have as much subsoil moisture this year as they did in 2021, but are getting enough for weed germination, and therefore a double knockdown, which was absolutely critical to preserve moisture.
"If we can control our weeds, then they're not using the moisture that is in the soil which is particularly important in a year like this when there is less in the subsoil than usual," Greg said.
"It really helps us to get off to a clean start as it gives the crops a step up and a helping hand to grow, so we're well and truly on our way."
Having been farming together since they returned home in 1989, the brothers run the operation like a well-oiled machine and have naturally taken on more responsibilities where their talents and interests lie.
For Michael, that was on the mechanical side and he inherently leaned more towards machinery, taking on the majority of the seeding and harvest work.
Greg on the other hand was always more scientifically-minded and took on the spraying operation, allowing him to tap into his knowledge on how different chemicals interact.
However when it comes to making decisions, the duo tends to see eye-to-eye and any debates they do have are always for the betterment of the enterprise.
This year they started seeding around April 11 and while getting going that early is not unheard of if they get rain, it is about two weeks before their more typical launch point.
Canola, which makes up about 15 per cent of the overall cropping program, was seeded first before a paddock of lupins for stock feed.
Both of those crops germinated quickly as the soil was still warm.
Next in was barley, with two new varieties being grown this season.
"We're moving into Maximus barley, away from Spartacus, which was a decision driven by yield and we're also growing some Buff for the first time as it's supposed to handle the lighter and more acidic soils better," Michael said.
"I wouldn't say we rush out and buy new varieties the first year they're available and we're probably a year behind in that sense, but we do like to see how they go in the trials and then run with them if they stack up."
The brothers are hoping to be finished seeding by the end of May, but that will depend on how the next few weeks play out.
"If things line up and we have good moisture, we'll push on, but we are also mindful of frost so we need to pace ourselves given the reasonably early start," Greg said.
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