Home > Record summer sorghum plant expected at the Wowan farm

Record summer sorghum plant expected at the Wowan farm

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article image Jim Olsson, Jim Macrae and James Olsson in the dryland MR-Buster at Wowan
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The Wowan farm may see their biggest sorghum plant on record if it receives an inch of rain this month.

Father-and-son team Jim and James Olsson, who run their 1,700ha cropping and cattle enterprise ‘Evelyn’ are waiting on a downpour before increasing their sorghum plant by 50 percent on the previous season.

Though they had a pretty good moisture profile in November with 170mm falling, it was too early, so they sowed 30 hectares of mungbeans. They plan to plant everything to summer crop on the next rain, which means 280ha of grain sorghum could go in the ground, consisting of 220ha MR-Buster and 60ha of MR-Taurus, along with the remaining 270ha of mungbeans.

The Olssons have decided to continue with the MR-Buster variety because it performed for them last season; they are putting in MR-Taurus on 60 hectares because it has a higher midge rating and yield potential.

The family was put onto the new variety MR-Taurus by agronomist Jim Macrae, who handles the majority of their agronomic requirements season to season.

Last year the duo planted 150ha of MR-Buster in early January; their first ever grain sorghum crop as a partnership.

Mr Olsson said they traditionally ran a mungbean and wheat rotation farm, but were looking to change the rotation due to market shifts and weed management. He explains that sorghum is finding profitability again, especially in the Asian export market and the stability in the market is a drawcard compared to the instability in the mungbean market.

Weed control is another major reason they are going to continue growing sorghum. Adding sorghum also allows them to put chickpeas behind it in winter. The sorghum and wheat grown on the farm help to supplement their cattle business, with the grain finishing around 300 meat works cattle destined for the EU market each year. About 30 percent of the crop is used on-farm to finish off the calves and about 70 percent is sold on to grain depots at Moura and Biloela.

However, Mr Olsson has noticed a shift in local demand recently, and is now looking to sell that 70 percent locally.

According to the grower, last season was rewarding but drawn out, putting it down to late tillering caused by the abundance of moisture from planting in January until harvest in July.

The crop was sown at 2kg/ha on 1m rows using an Excel single disc planter. Fertiliser requirements were fulfilled with 120kg urea and chemical applications were applied in the form of 1.5L of Dual Gold mixed with 1.4L of Atrazine post-plant.

Though they could not complete the harvest until July 19, they were very pleased with the outcome, yielding 4.5t/ha from the MR-Buster.

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