Cambooya grower chases top end yield

Changes
to the summer cropping program have yielded dividends for Cambooya farmer Ray
Charles.

Usually a
corn grower, Mr Charles moved to sorghum in recent years due to high prices for
the versatile grain and problems with dead corn grain.

A more
recent change was adding a new long maturity sorghum variety – MR-Apollo – to
the mix last season that went on to yield 11.837 tonnes per hectare at harvest
in late-February. It was irrigated
twice.

Mainstay
hybrid MR-Buster came in at 10t/ha on some irrigated red
soil country.

The
impressive result makes him a strong contender for the irrigated sorghum
category at the 2017 Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland (RASQ) Queensland
Country Life Grains Outlook crop competition – taken out this year by Perry
Farming, ‘Thologolong’, Brookstead, with 11.431t/ha.

The
grower said both varieties had a fit depending on the needs of the farmer and
the conditions.

“MR-Buster
offers wide adaptability and high yield traits, while MR-Apollo hits those top
end yields provided it is sown to good country,” he said.

“Apollo’s
appearance is impressive, with a nice colour and very big grain size.

“Its stem
and stalk is really bulky compared to other sorghums ‚Äì it’s like comparing a
Brahman to a Jersey.”

Mr
Charles runs cropping operation ‘Wyndella’ with wife Jenny, son Jason and
daughter-in-law Emma.

Growing
winning crops is not new to the family, taking home the 2016 RASQ sunflower
prize as well as overall champion crop.

Asked
what his secret to growing a bumper crop was, the grower said ‘sometimes things
just go right’.

Though,
plenty of nutrients and a mild season definitely help.

“I never
skimp on anything. If I get a soil test
back and it needs a certain amount of NPK, I put more than the recommended
amount on.

“We’ve
bumped up the nitrogen in sorghum the last few seasons to equal corn, going to
about four bags of urea per acre.
Fertiliser is still around 120kg/ha.

“It was
what you would call a mild year – a lot better than two years ago in the heat
and dry.”

They crop
sorghum and corn in summer and mostly wheat in winter, with the odd opportunity
crop like chickpeas added in depending on price or weed burden. Mungbeans were sown for the first time this
year.

“We
usually do two to three years of sorghum then switch to winter crop, which
allows us to spray because Johnsongrass is a problem here.”

Mr
Charles said they have also increased productivity by splitting summer into two
segments.

“A lot of
the time we wait for rain to plant, till November, but now we’ve come to the
conclusion that we plant October and water it up.
That allows us to split summer into two – sowing corn or sorghum early
and either soybeans or mungbeans later.”

Leave a Reply