News and Views

Season of firsts for Premer Shield winner

Joe Fleming

2017’s Premer Shield has been awarded to Willow Tree property Parraweena for a crop of MR-Scorpio sorghum, grown on a commercial scale for the first time.

The award was one of several presented at the annual Premer Field Day, which is run by the Premer branch of the NSW Farmers’ Association and Field Day Committee, and recognises and rewards the efforts of growers in the district.

Joe Fleming, who manages the 4,452 hectare dryland grain growing property for Parraweena Pastoral Company, grew the prize winning 8 t/ha crop.

He said the 2016-17 sorghum program was split across three varieties, with MR-Scorpio included for top-end yield potential.

“We’ve always been big MR-Buster growers, but we saw MR-Scorpio in Pacific Seeds trials a few years ago, then put some strip trials in here, which then led us to our first year on a broadacre scale,” Mr Fleming said.

“It has a very high yield potential and we had a full moisture profile in a paddock out of mungbeans in 2015-16, so I was keen to grow some on a bigger scale.”

He planted 100 ha of MR-Scorpio, 30 ha of MR-Buster, and 30 ha of MR-Bazley into one of his sorghum paddocks in late October 2016.

They used a seeding rate of 60,000 seeds/ha on 76 cm row spacing. 100 kg/ha of Gold N was pre-applied, followed by 12 l/ha of Kickstart Z. In addition to this, some biological Petrik products were also applied at planting.

Chemical control included Dual and Terbyne pre-emergent and Starane and Terbyne in-crop.

Mr Fleming said they had an ideal growing season up until the end of January 2017.

“Early season rainfall was good but January 2017 was dry and February 2017 was dry and extremely hot. Mid-February 2017 cost us yield for sure.”

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Parraweena, Willow Tree, station recorded rainfall over the growing season at 382 mm.

According to the header during the late-March 2017 harvest, MR-Buster and MR-Bazley yielded about 7 t/ha.

Mr Fleming, joined by his wife Tammie, and children Riley, Georgia, and Parker, generally grows 1,000 ha of winter crop and 1,500-2,000 ha of summer crop across the 2,833 ha of arable land.

The company’s other property, Parraweena Highlands, produces Hereford and Angus cattle.

Proving that no crop is off limit, the business has experimented with many rotational options.

“We have grown canola, barley, corn, and sunflower in the past, but for this environment, sorghum and wheat have been our traditional cash crops.

“Last season we also planted cotton for the first time because the price was right.”

Mr Fleming is now preparing the soil for a planting of Impala soft biscuit wheat and Kabuli chickpeas.

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