A CROP hard to falter, was the comment by the judge, Paul Parker to grower, John Nolan, whose first entry in the Coolah Show Society district wheat competition had made its way to central regional status in the 2019 Agricultural Societies Council/Suncorp Bank NSW Dryland Field Wheat Competition.
Mr Nolan and wife, Anna, with their four children who farm and graze their four-property aggregation of 2430 hectares based on Deans Mountain, Bundella, have harvested a Lancer crop yielding 4.7 tonnes per hectare on a recently purchased black soil property, Skeldon.
Long fallow from a sorghum harvest in May last ear to an April/May planting this year was a key to the crop's success, Mr Nolan said.
After renovating the established paddocks on Skeldon, and applying sulphate, Mr Nolan dry-sowed, then applied Longran on the prospect of a possible 50 millimetre rain event which eventuated in 32mm gently falling soon after finishing sowing.
Mr Nolan used a RFM CT Guidance Disc Planter with a Simplicity six-tonne air cart starting at the end of April sowing 50 kilograms/ha of Lancer seed with 60kg/ha Granulock 15 fertiliser on 30 centimetre width spacings.
"I chose Lancer as it can be sown early and the paddocks had received 590mm during the fallow period," Mr Nolan said.
Regional finals judge, Mr Parker, said due to a dry growing season he expected to find crown rot disease within crops this year.
However, he commented he could not find any sign in this crop.
"I've only got good news for this crop," Mr Parker said.
The Nolans say they are more cattle graziers than farmers, buying-in cows which they join to Angus bulls then grow out calves to feedlot weights, plus trade yearling steers and heifers marketing them to Caroona, JBS or Teys, depending on weights.
"We grow 325ha of oats which is grazed, and some winter grazing wheat," Mr Nolan said.
However, the key to their grazing feed strategy is premier digit grass which, Mr Nolan treats like a crop.
"Most of our red country not farmed has been improved with the introduction of a digit grass pasture.
"It gets between 100kg to 200kg/ha of urea each year plus 150kg/ha of single superphosphate every second or third year."
Instead of running 700 breeders, plus cropping, the Nolans prefer to run 300 cows and trade younger cattle throughout the year.
They also grow forage sorghum or millet, but will not this year unless there is late spring or summer rains.
Forward planning with renovation the key
PADDOCK renovation carried out on a property purchased last year by John and Anna Nolan, Bundella, has come to fruition with their first winter crop in the self-mulching black soil.
Working on the principal of being prepared, the Nolans carried out a series of renovation actions at Skeldon during the purchase period to be the fourth property in their aggregation of 2430 hectares based on Deans Mountain.
"We were grateful to the vendors who allowed us to begin a long-fallow process during the purchase phase and followed their prior rotations of sorghum then wheat," Mr Nolan said.
"Sorghum had been harvested in May, 2018 and we planned to sow Lancer wheat after a long fallow."
That happened in April/May this year after the paddocks received 590 millimetres during the fallow period.
During the fallow period there were five sprays between last August and April of Roundup and Ester, with one being a double knock to rid glyphosate resistant weeds.
The Nolans renovated the paddocks after soil tests and put 400 kilograms/hectare of sulphate followed by kelly discing during February in a month that would not sacrifice soil moisture loss.
"We soil tested shallow and deep with deep samples also tested for moisture content," Mr Nolan said.
"We applied the sulphate on nine-metre tracks, then kelly disced which also eliminated older 36m tracks so we could start our process anew."
The exercise was fortuitous as 80mm of rain fell gently after the February exercise.
"Rain of upwards of 50mm was predicted towards the end of April, so I took the punt and sowed, and then applied Lowgran spray at 35 grams/ha with gentle rain falling that night.