A GENTLE growing season has the York family’s Anameka Farms on track to harvest what is expected to be its second consecutive record harvest at Tammin in Western Australia’s central Wheatbelt.
Last year Oscar York, who farms with his father Tony and uncle Simon, harvested a record 30,000 tonnes of crop, averaging 2.8t per hectare for wheat and 2.6t/ha for barley.
This year, Mr York said ideal seeding conditions and an unprecedented run of no frost events at the end of the growing season had created ideal conditions for the crop to reach 3t/ha.
“For the last two months before harvest, the main thing we are wary of is frost.
“Our entire farm is susceptible to it, and we can experience catastrophic frost damage. This year, we have managed to get through without any frost events,” Mr York said.
“Even last year, when we still managed a record harvest, part of it was lost to frost.”
This year, the Yorks sowed 4900 ha of wheat, 3300ha of barley, 1100 ha of canola, 1300 ha of field peas and 1000 ha of lupins as well as 3500ha of pasture for their self-replacing flock of 4500 Merino ewes.
“After a dry summer we had an early break in April and seeding was amazing.”
“Everything went smoothly and we had 320-400 millimetres of rain across the farm at the right time.
The Tammin region has an annual average rainfall of around 370mm, and this has already been exceeded.
“Since August, we’ve had more than 100mm over most of the crop which is unusual, and provides an ideal finish, so we’re really excited for this harvest.”
Big harvest, big machinery
To help meet the labour demands of the operation, Anameka Farms employs four full-time workers and a mechanic, plus six to eight seasonal workers for harvest and seeding.
It was the prospect of a second record harvest that prompted the Yorks to boost their harvesting capacity by investing in two new John Deere X9 1000s to ensure crops could be taken off quickly.
“The 2020-21 harvest seemed to go on forever.
“We started in October and were still going in January, so it took about 11 weeks instead of the usual eight.
“We put in 600 hours each on two John Deere S680 headers with 45-foot flex fronts, so we decided to sell one and buy two new John Deere X9s with 50-foot hinged draper fronts, to give us extra capacity.”
The X9s feature a dual separator, faster unloading and wider headers to handle additional crop flow, and will join the Yorks’ stable of machinery which includes six John Deere tractors: two 8R 370s, two 9570Rs, an 8335R and an 8430.
Input expenditure reduced
To further enhance efficiency, the Yorks are sourcing lime acidity from their own farms, and regular soil testing helps to identify areas were acidity needs to be countered.
“We used to truck coastal lime in from three hours away, so we’ve cut out the freight costs by using our own Morell lime for the past two years, and the results are really promising.
“Some of our neighbours are doing it as well after finding some in their own paddocks.”
Mr York said adding having sheep, peas and lupins in the crop rotation has also helped the farming operation keep its input costs down.
“A lot of our pasture is sown with the hard-seeded, deep rooted annual legume, biserrula, which fixes nitrogen for crop rotations and is suited for use on acid soils.
“This year we have 600ha sown with biserrula, which will set us up nicely for next year to plant wheat or canola, and not need as much fertiliser.”
Source: John Deere