Mildura Weekly : Friday January 2 Vol 9 No 8 2015
NEWS 09 FRIDAY, JANUARY 2, 2015 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU Photographs: PAUL MENSCH far west grazing family fore Angus did not own the equipment needed to sow the sunflower crop. He also candidly admits to a lack of cropping expertise as well – he is a grazier after all. “That’s why we have part- nered with Jason and Char- lotte Harmer,” Gus explained. “Essentially we are pro- viding the land, and they are providing the bulk of the cropping equipment and ex- pertise,” he said. Even so, the couples made a joint decision to hire a precision planter and a three-point linkage tractor from outside to put the crop in. Precision is the operative word here. The crop is incred- ibly uniform...the spacings between the rows, and be- tween the individual plants, is military-like. “Planting started during the last week of September, and was completed by the second week of October, Gus said. The crop was planted in one metre rows, with about 300mm between plants. The aim was to establish 30,000 plants per hectare. “Since going in, the crop has received around 40mm of rain, and been disease and insect pest-free,” Gus said, crossing his fingers. Pre-plant cultivation con- trolled minor weeds, and Gus says the sunflowers estab- lished so quickly and so well, that they are out-competing any subsequent germinations. “The sunflowers look fan- tastic right now, and we are hoping for some more rain, and no summer heat waves,” he said. The majority of the sun- flower plants are now between 1200mm (4ft) and 1500 (5ft) millimetres tall, and looking very healthy. And, with rows and rows stretching away to the horizon, the crop is a magnificent sight – all ver- dant green foliage and bright yellow heads. So far, the maturing sun- flowers have not attracted the attention of the abundant kangaroos and emus that call Wyndham and Willow Point home. This has been a chal- lenge in the past when the crop was wheat. “Sunflowers aren’t that palatable so we have ended up with a nice, even crop. Even the edges are seemingly untouched by the wildlife,” Gus explained. It also helps that the sun- flower crop is ringed by a pro- tective cordon of unfriendly and spikey, thistle-like saf- flower plants. These too will be harvest- ed in due course, providing another revenue stream. Saf- flower is also cultivated for its oil and seeds. The safflower is standing about 500mm tall. Like most people on the land, Gus and Kelly are phil- osophical about the poten- tial rewards that they could reap from their golden crop. But, if Mother Nature re- mains kind..and gentle, the harvest is shaping up to be a real beaut! Around 700 tonnes of the potential crop have been forward contracted to Adams Australia, in Gunnedah for oil, and another 200 tonnes will go to Melbourne to be- come part of a birdseed mix- ture. • Continued Page 17 • LAKE YELLOW: The lake bed on Wyndham is a sea of bright yellow, a stark contrast to the surrounding blue/grey of the surrounding bush. The sunflower crop, ABOVE, is well established on Wyndham with the sign on the homestead wall leaving you in no doubt as to where you are. INSET: Gus Whyte. VIC & NSW LIC. NO. 32486 Enter at club reception. Tell us your discount story and you could WIN an iPAD Deakin Avenue, Mildura | Phone 5023 0531 www.milduraworkers.com.au Present your Workers membership card at participating local businesses and major retailers to receive great offers and discounts! Available at participating stores only. Offers are subject to change Plus many other businesses with great offers and discounts... Get your VIP Directory for full details.
Friday December 19 Vol 9 No 7 2014
Friday January 9 Vol 9 No 9 2015