SPORADIC rain on early-sown wheat, barley and canola, has enabled a positive finish to a very patchy growing season for the Day family's large broadacre cropping enterprise at Oaklands in the Riverina.
"To me, all the earlier sown crops look better this year," fourth generation member of the Day family, Shannon said, who this year is growing a total of 9514 hectares of winter crop.
They began harvesting Planet barley on October 27 and had stripped about 1620ha by last weekend's rain event which only delivered 12 millimetres.
"The barley was yielding between 2.5 and three tonnes per hectare which is quite pleasing," Mr Day said.
"We have also baled wheaten hay using two balers.
"The Beckom wheat was looking good, but it just didn't look like it was going to finish in the head because of the dry spell in August/September, and was also a later sown crop."
They had completed close to 1215ha of hay before the weekend rain. Mr Day thought their three Case headers would be back in the barley paddocks towards the middle to end of this week, then start on the wheat.
"We have our own headers, but a cousin came in to help us last week as his crop is still to finish, so we had four harvesters stripping alongside each other, and impressive sight."
Shannon's great-grandfather, Pat Day, began the family dynasty in the 1920s with one truck carting bagged wheat and fertiliser around the Oakland farming district. Now Days Logistics runs close to 35 trucks.
Hope of big Oaklands returns
COMING off the back of a really dry 2018, the Day family was influenced in taking canola right out of their 2019 winter cropping season.
With little to no soil moisture profile they began dry sowing on April 9, but according to Shannon Day, a good rain event in the middle of sowing around Anzac Day of some 60 to 70 millimetres got them going.
"We sort of got rain just at the right time throughout the growing period, but we were always chasing the next rain," he said.
With the April rain, canola was re-added to the mix.
"When we saw the rain was coming we stopped cereals and went into canola sowing," Mr Day said.
This year 9514 hectares was sown to barley, wheat and canola with Bonito and Gem variety canola accounting for 2025ha and the cereals split 50/50, 3745ha each of Beckom, Condo and Gregory wheat and LaTrobe, Baudin and Planet barley.
They used three Janke parallelogram air seeders sowing at 30 centimetre spacings.
"We traditionally sow at a higher rate to compensate for possible seed misplacement or germination misses," Mr Day said.
"So we sowed 70 to 75 kilograms of cereal seed per hectare and three to four kg/ha of canola."
The family had done soil tests for each of the past three to five years on different paddocks and have created their own granular fertiliser blend that suits their soil types.
"The fertiliser rate did vary this year as we had residue from 2018 so we used lower rates in this year's crop than we'd usually do," he said.
Mr Day said everyone around them got hurt on canola last year as it was the first crop that "went off" in 2018.
"A lot of people didn't start sowing at the normal time because there was no soil moisture profile.
"I think for us, we've really seen the benefit of sowing early this year because we got the benefit out of that heavier rain.
"To me, the earlier crops look better this year."
He said the later sown crops didn't reach the size.
"When we went into that really hot period in August - early September, the later crops were the first that went off in our program," he said.
"The ones we sowed last were the ones that really struggled, whereas the plants that had established themselves held tight."
After Shannon's great-grandfather established the family's trucking business, his grandfather, Pat Day, had the vision of farming and began purchasing properties around Oaklands from 1973 and now the Dayfarms Pty Ltd's aggregation is of some 12,145ha.
"All our farms are in one area and he bought a lot of small separate farms to form the aggregation the family has today," Shannon Day said.