Home > Junabee corn grower capitalises on grit and feed markets

Junabee corn grower capitalises on grit and feed markets

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article image Junabee farmer Andrew Free grows PAC 727IT corn for gritting and has added PAC 440 for feed.
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Andrew Free, a long-term gritting corn grower from Junabee has planted feed corn on his farm due to the improved varieties on offer as well as the growing demand in the feed market. Mr Free, who also grows sorghum, cotton, mungbeans and wheat at Poplar Woods with his son Ben, has been planting grit corn for many years, supplying the nearby mill, Defiance Maize Products.

Following a corn trial last season and observing the demand for feed across the country from the dairy and livestock industries, he is now looking at feed corn as another viable income stream for his farm.

Mr Free explains that they normally grow grit corn, but profit margin remains the top consideration.

“In the last few years grit corn has been in the range of $300 - $350/tonne, and this year feed prices are $100 above that, which is an incentive to try feed varieties.

“While feed varieties don’t usually attract a premium, they can quite often achieve 10-15 per cent more yield due to generally higher starch content, so you have to do your sums.

“The way the feed market turned out this year, our intention this season is to plant more feed corn.”

Mr Free grew 75 hectares of corn last season, which was split over two planting times and included both commercial crops and several trial crops. The early plant in November covered 45ha while the later plant began in January over 30ha. Varieties included PAC 727IT, PAC 440, P1888, Amadeus and Amadeus IT.

Among the grit corn varieties, PAC 727IT is a big favourite for Mr Free because it matches feed varieties for yield unlike other grit corns. PAC 727IT also exhibits excellent stress tolerance and retains both grain size and quality. Yield is the most important factor, followed by grain quality, and it delivers for both, he added.

However, the corn in the early planting was decimated by the heatwave in January. But the later planting made it to grain. Included in the later planted corn was new grain/silage hybrid PAC 440, which was the standout for the season. The grower harvested the PAC 440 crop in July, three weeks before the rest of the field because it was a quick variety (108CRM). The yield was exceptional at 5.2t/ha, where the next best variety yielded 4t/ha.

If a feed variety like PAC440 comes along with a higher yield, it tends to put the feed market in a positive light, he added.

Mr Free said this season’s crop will consist mostly of PAC 727IT and PAC 440 to capitalise on both the grit and feed markets.

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