The big wet across much of the state has taken a toll on quality in cereal and oilseed crops, but Gilgandra mixed farmer Kevin Kilby is hopeful his Luxor albus lupins will go the distance.
"Our best crop was 3t/ha, but I reckon this year's is probably going to beat that," he said. "It's the best crop we've ever grown."
Mr Kilby, his wife Jenny and their son, Jon, crop 1000ha of dryland winter cereals, oilseeds and legumes on the five properties that make up Inglewood, north of Gilgandra, in the central west region.
Mr Kilby said there was a lot to like about albus lupins which have a similar growth habit to narrow-leafed lupin, but a thicker stem, broader leaves and larger flowers.
"They prefer deep well-drained soil with no constraints, such as tight, shallow or sodic soils," he said. "That means you've got to pick your paddocks. They are susceptible to frost - early and late - and they like a kind spring."
On paddocks with a good fertiliser history, like those at Inglewood, the crop needs little in the way of extra phosphorous or trace elements before or during the growing season.
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As well as fixing nitrogen and providing a valuable grass weed and disease break, Mr Kilby said he'd found lupins were resistant to wet weather which is why they were usually the last crop to be harvested.
And even though they can be susceptible to a range of root, stem, pod and seed diseases, a three to four year interval between lupin crops has been enough to keep the disease burden low.
Weed management for the 2021 lupin crop started with a pre-emergent spray of Hammer at 60ml/ha and Roundup at 1.5l/ha to kill black oats and ryegrass.
The lupins were treated with Group B inoculant and sown into barley stubble using a Gason Scaritill trailing seeder with tynes and press wheels on 338mm row spacings.
The seed was sown at 90kg/ha, with simazine at 700g/ha and trifluralin at 1.5l/ha in front.
A post-sowing spray of Terbyne at 800g/ha caused some stunting of the young crop in the wet conditions during June and July, but it managed to grow out of the damage after the paddocks dried up a bit in August.
Despite the damp, no in-season fungicides were needed. Mouse bait was broadcast at 3kg/ha before and after sowing, and a single spray of Karate was applied to protect against helicoverpa, also known as heliothis.
The lupins are expected to reach maturity this month and they'll be harvested when moisture content drops to 14 per cent, after stripping of cereal crops is complete.
Mr Kilby said the lupins were usually sold at harvest to Fletcher International Exports or Robinson Grain Trading Co, but shipping disruptions had halted orders.
"I saw (Canadian processor) AGT Food Ingredients were offering $585 for January delivery at Narrabri," he said.
"If we can strip them and get that, that's a pretty good price, even with freight costs of $30-$40/t. If not, the lupins can be stored on farm for several years and sold when demand picks up."
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