Sorghum gamble paying off

Trying something new pays off for Moree farmer

Local Business Feature
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In a tough year, trying something new can feel like a bit of a gamble. But after consulting with his agronomist, it is a gamble that paid off for farmer Justin Ramsay with a bumper sorghum crop that has him coming back for more

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Justin Ramsay, Moree, enjoyed a bumper crop after trying Heritage Seeds' HGS-114 sorghum.

Justin Ramsay, Moree, enjoyed a bumper crop after trying Heritage Seeds' HGS-114 sorghum.

In a tough year, trying something new can feel like a bit of a gamble.

But after consulting with his agronomist, it is a gamble that paid off for farmer Justin Ramsay with a bumper sorghum crop that has him coming back for more.

Mr Ramsay operates a mixed farming enterprise north of Moree in northern NSW, where he runs 1500 merino ewes alongside his summer grains cropping.

"We operate on a five-year rotation, focusing on sorghum, chickpeas and barley," he said.

"Our farming system evolves around stubble retention, with opportune plantings of legumes including chickpeas and faba beans."

When it comes to choosing the right varieties to put in the ground, Mr Ramsay has a few challenges to overcome.

"Aside from the dry weather, we have contrasting soils on our property - from light red loams to heavy grey clays - so we need to plan when to plant and when to harvest to get the best result," he said.

"We also have pockets of sodicity at root level to consider, so it can make choosing the right variety a bit of a challenge."

Last year, having not planted grain sorghum for five years, Mr Ramsay felt out of touch with the best varieties to put in the ground.

For this reason, he sought advice from his local agronomist.

"We've had a tough few years, and I really needed reassurance that whatever I put in the ground was going to pay-off," Mr Ramsay said.

"We considered a few options, but in the end, I decided to go with Heritage Seeds' HGS-114.

"I hadn't seen it before, and I usually like to see the crop beforehand, but the data was convincing.

"It was consistently up there in the top two or three in trials, so on the recommendation from my agronomist, I decided to give it a go."

When the opportunity arose to sow the summer crop, Mr Ramsay decided to plant it all in one go - a risk that thankfully paid off.

"We got it in the ground in early September, after some rain in August, and it just took off from there," he said.

"We had no hiccups, no issues.

"It had really good early growth, and when it came to harvest, we had a great yield."

Mr Ramsay loved it so much, he took footage of himself harvesting the crop and posted it on social media, which has prompted a few farmers to contact him to find out more about his experience.

He has already placed his order for this coming season.

"This year we're planting 760 hectares, which will be almost exclusively HGS-114, but this year we might split it up over a few plantings," he said.

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