Craig and Jenny Bradley, “New Armatree”, Armatree, and dog Penny, in their paddock of Gregory wheat which won the western section of this year’s Gulargambone Show Society Wheat Competition.
LAST year Craig Bradley took out the eastern section of the Gulargambone Show Society Wheat Competition, and this year he took out the western, but he has so far been unable to take out the title of overall winner.
Mr Bradley – who farms about 1400 hectares across “New Armatree” and “Allawah”, near Armatree, with his wife Jenny and children Jack and Peta – said a friendly rivalry existed between the east and the west, which his properties straddled.
Judging took place last Wednesday, when Mr Bradley’s 90ha Gregory wheat crop on “New Armatree” won the western section.
The crop was sown at a rate of 40 kilograms a hectare on May 5, into country which received about 18 millimetres of rain the week before.
The crop had 50kg/ha of mono-ammonium phosphate applied at sowing and a pre-crop emergent spray of Logran, however, apart from that, the crop has had no in-crop sprays or fertiliser applications.
Mr Bradley said his rotation was specific, with three years of dryland grazing lucerne followed by a cereal crop (usually wheat), chickpeas and then wheat before returning to lucerne.
“The lucerne gives us the disease break to reduce our crown rot levels, and builds up the nitrogen levels in the soil,” he said.
“Also during that lucerne phase we’re able to get on top of our grass weeds and clean them up.”
The Bradleys also run New Armatree Border Leicesters, which has about 250 mature breeding ewes, and a flock of about 1500 Merino ewes. The Merinos are used for wool production and also crossed with the Border Leicesters to produce first-cross ewes.
Mr Bradley said the lucerne was used to finish lambs.
When the Bradleys took out the eastern section of the Gulargambone wheat competition last year, it was also with a crop of Gregory wheat on “Allawah”, which went on to yield about 3.1 tonnes a hectare.
Crops are judged on yield, management, rotations, disease and weed prevalence, as well as crop evenness and trueness to type.
The Bradleys have used minimum-till farming practices for the past six years on “Allawah” and “New Armatree”, which Mrs Bradley’s father Max Wilson purchased in 1954.
However, they had not introduced controlled traffic technology.
In total this season the Bradleys planted about 400ha of Spitfire, Gregory and Sunvale wheat, 40ha of oats and 80ha of lupins and chickpeas respectively, and will start harvesting in about two weeks.
Mr Bradley said they would likely start with oats, before moving to some of the wheat, followed by the chickpeas and lupins and then ultimately wheat.
They received a fall of 20mm rain on September 28, however, prior to that had not received any rain for 10 weeks.
Mr Bradley said he was pleased with how the crops were tracking, and said the rain could have increased their yield by half a tonne to the hectare.
“That rain was a lifesaver, it came just in the nick of time,” he said.
“It would be nice to get more rain for the pastures, but we’d be happy to now get no rain until Christmas time.”
The Bradleys entered into multi-grade forward contracts for part of their wheat crop in July, when prices spiked.
“We forward sold at a pretty reasonable price and that price has hung in there, it’s about the same today as what it was then,” Mr Bradley said.
“We’re quite happy for prices to go up after we forward sold because it means we get the higher price for the rest of the crop, but we only forward sell if we’re happy with the price at the time, which we were.”
Mr Bradley said they had capacity to store about 1000t of grain on-farm, which they would use for the crop of Yarran oats. The Yarran oats was planted entirely for sheep consumption.
Until September 28 the Bradleys had been feeding their sheep flock with barley – held in storage from last season – for about six weeks.
“The feed situation for the stock is really tight and we’re feeding most animals at the minute,” Mr Bradley said.
“The pasture is really dry… we had some heavy frosts over winter and there has just been no growth.”
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