HE might only be a pup compared to most graingrowers, but young Keegan Manning is making his way in farming.
The 19-year-old has just finished harvesting his second wheat crop at “Skipton”, Gunnedah, and couldn’t be happier.
It’s his second year leasing the 60-hectare block and he’s pleased with the results after a tough year last year.
The Lancer wheat had an average yield of 5.8 tonnes a hectare, a big improvement from last year’s Suntop crop, which managed just two to 2.5t/ha.
Leasing a block was an easy decision for the teenager, who has always wanted to get into farming, but it’s been a learning curve.
“I originally did a bit of work for the bloke who owns ‘Skipton’ and he asked me if I wanted to grow a crop,” Mr Manning said.
“Last year was a lot more work. I was still in year 12 and doing my HSC.
“Mum gave me hand in the first year because I couldn’t get loans, not being 18 and still at school, but now I’ve got an income.
“I didn’t make too much from it last year, but it’s looking good for this year. The season’s been on our side.”
Mr Manning works for his grandfather Allan Riordan and uncles Andrew and Ross Riordan at “Durante” on the Breeza plains.
The farming bug skipped a generation in the family, with Mr Manning growing up in town.
”My mum was the only one in her family who didn't get into farming – she did the the uni thing with banking and business, then bought a motel.”
The crop is a team effort, with contractors planting, harvesting and spraying and family members lending a hand.
“I get the same contractor in to do the planting and harvest, and I just get sprayers in when I need them,” Mr Manning said.
Mr Manning hires gear for cultivation and his uncles help by driving harvest trucks.
“I would have really struggled if I didn't have pop and my uncles,” he said.
“Last year I didn’t have an agronomist so pop gave me a fair hand with that, and the smallest truck we have needs a semi licence, so I’ll be waiting another year to drive the trucks myself.
“They all help out and they’re happy I’m having a go at farming.”
It’s a big change from what the family hoped for Mr Manning.
“At first they wanted me to get an apprenticeship but then they bought another property and needed another worker so I was there.
“Before that I’d been working on the place at harvest and during school holidays, but as soon as I finished my HSC, I was straight on the farm.”