Bringing home the sorghum 'bacon' is a Claas act out on the plains near Bundella.
The sorghum harvest is completed in most of the north and is underway in central and south-west areas and on the Liverpool Plains with sensational results coming in.
At Bundella, west of Quirindi, sorghum is going about 9 tonnes to the hectare. This year, thankfully, the mice plague has abated, and there's great confidence this could be one of the best sorghum harvests on record.
The sorghum harvest was largely completed on the North-West Plains four weeks ago with record yields and averages. AMPS agronomist Tony Lockrey said there were not many paddock yields in the Moree district under 5t/ha, the farm yield average was about 7.5t/ha, with some district crops going 10t/ha. Moisture levels and fertiliser use played a big part in the yield results. Those who had bit on the high fertiliser costs at close to $800 a tonne, had reaped the rewards.
On the Liverpool Plains extraordinary crops of close to 12t/ha are being recorded.
Mice damaged many sorghum crops and yields last year. Australia's sorghum harvest will be possibly be the third largest on record at 2.6 million tonnes, according to ABARES' March bulletin.
At the moment sorghum is attracting high prices - about $300 a tonne delivered to GrainCorp at Quirindi, about $340/t out of Newcastle.
For the Mitchell family at Bundella, this harvest has special significance as the owner of the property is none other than German-based Claas owner, Cathrina Claas-Muhlhauser, who now chairs the Claas Group supervisory board.
Andrew Mitchell says Cathrina is very interested in the properties and "very happy with the numbers".
Now Andrew is bringing home one of the best sorghum crops they have grown. In all they have planted 1400 hectares of sorghum and it's been a terrific season. The plantings are on three properties at Tamalie, Tirranna and at ther Dimby Downs block at Blackville.
They've planted Pacific Seeds Resolute and Pioneer Hybrid A75 sorghum with great results. "The harvest is going pretty good so far," Andrew says. At Tamalie the sorghum is averaging 9.4t/ha. Everything is about half a tonne up on last year. They did a midge spray during the season, but it was a normal season, with no mice damage. It was necessary to do a plane spray due to the wet.
They had no trouble with labour with their own employees, and trucks readily available. Part of the secret to getting into their crops has been a Claas combine header, 8700 Terra Trac. It has a grain tank capacity of 15,000L, an engine with 420kw/571 HP, unloading at 180 seconds, a track width of 890mm and a capacity in sorghum yielding of 9.5 tph around 140 tonnes per hour at a travel speed of 8km/h.
Andrew's wife Elisa Mitchell said the combine has been "our salvation this year, allowing us to operate when others were stopped with wet conditions". "The combine also allowed us an early canola harvest which meant greater profit margins. The large threshing and separator drums provide us with a straight, even and fast grain flow. The combine has been designed and redeveloped from the ground up with close co-operation from farmers."
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journalist and author
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