Wheat growers from across the state attended the awards for the 2022 AgShows NSW Suncorp Bank Championship Field Wheat and Durum Wheat Competitions, held in Dubbo on Friday night.
For the second year running, Central Region winners Rob and Mandy Taylor, Greenethorpe, were the state winners under competition judge Frank McRae, Borenore.
The durum competiton winners were Bob and Dy O'Neill-Shaw, Willow Tree.
Run by AgShows NSW (the peak body for 192 shows), the competition is judged across four regions ahead of the state final.
To make the state finals, the top five crops in four regions are identified and then compared to determine the state winner.
Mr Taylor, a mixed farmer, said the win came as a welcome surprise in a year of challenging wet conditions and the highest financial output on record.
"We had some good crops but I thought there would be others in front so it was quite a shock," he said.
His property usually receives about 600mm of rain annually - in 2022 it was hit with a whopping 1030mm, but good timing and management resulted in a successful harvest.
"We got our timing of our fungicide spot on and we were fortunate that it dried up at the right time because we could have had a disastrous finish otherwise," he said.
"What also really helped us this year was having controlled traffic tramlines. That made the paddocks more accessible and we could get on them to apply fungicides because there's a lot of disease pressure this year with all the wet weather."
That combined with a free-draining deeper red soil and the most significant output in the Taylor's harvest history, meant an outstanding crop awaited the judges at "Glenalla" last year.
"We've spent a lot of money this year, there's no doubt about that," Mr Taylor said.
"Fertiliser prices are through the roof and we spent a lot on fungicide so it's high input, high output. The win is certainly rewarding because it's definitely been the most expensive crop I've ever grown."
The Taylors topped the central region with a point score of 218 for their 7.3t/ha, ahead of Keith and Kate Perrett near Gunnedah (7.1t/ha 215pts) and Plantation Trading at Premer (6.4t/ha 198pts).
The durum wheat competition state champion, and winner of a farming excellence award were also revealed at last night's celebrations.
In the durum yield competition, Bob and Dy O'Neil-Shaw scored highest for their 8.5t/ha, achieving 238 points, ahead of Michael Smith, Moree (8.00 t/ha 227pts), and Mitch and Cameron Waterhouse (6.70 t/ha 199pts).
Charlie Scott, farm manager at Baroma Downs, Croppa Creek, won the T.J. Dwyer Farming Excellence award after impressing the judges with his knowledge and practices.
For the O'Neil-Shaw family operation, son Jack O'Neil-Shaw said this year's crop was powered by a not-so-secret weapon - chook poo.
"The cost of urea was so high that we put 1.3 tonne of chook poo on it and even that was pretty hard to get a hold of because everyone must've been thinking the same thing," he said.
"The other factor was the breed we used was Westcourt this year and its disease resistance is a bit better than some of the older varieties."
A joint effort with wife Cecile, brother Ned, and parents Bob and Dy, and the guidance of agronomist Sam Gulliford, Jack said the family's sights are already set on a repeat winning performance.
"It was a pretty cool achievement and now we have to see if we can back it up and do it again next year," he said.
Heavy rainfall in 2022 impacted crops sown later in the season, and continued to present difficulties for sponsors Suncorp throughout the judging process.
"It was incredibly challenging with the flooding and wet weather and sponsors Suncorp needed to go to each farm in each region individually to inspect the wheat," said AgShows NSW president Peter Gooch.
"With so many roads cut off, sometimes a two day judging became three days including huge detours of a couple of hundred kilometres and northern judging was pushed back a full week as Narrabri was entirely flooded.
"Weather makes it incredibly challenging and Suncorp just worked tirelessly to make it happen."
Suncorp has sponsored the annual wheat competition for more than 10 years, a tradition Ben Graystone, Suncorp district manager for northern NSW, said the company was proud to uphold.
"It gives us great pride to be associated with the competition. It keeps our finger on the pulse with what's going on in the farming sector, and it's a good opportunity to meet new customers, reconnect with existing customers and it's a great educational opportunity for our managers, assistants and our graduates," he said.
In the southern region, Steven and and Dr Felicity Harris and J. and J. Gummer, Old Junee, had a 7.2t/ha to score 216pts ahead of John Ingold and Co, Temora (7t/ha, 214pts) and Baldry and Sons, Wallendbeen (7t/ha, 212pts).
David Smith, Croppa Creek, topped the northern NSW competition with his 7t/ha and score of 209, ahead of Blake Phillips, Moree, in second (6.9t/ha, 205pts), and the Browning family of Narromine in third (6.45t/ha, 197pts).