Rain stops play

I’ve been looking froward to this seciton of my trip for weeks – visiting my Nuffield chums.

First stop is Dave Gooden, about two hours west of Wagga Wagga. Dave farms 9000 acres with his wife Heidi, his brothers and their wives and his Dad in Lockhart. It’s a mixed cropping enterprise, with canola, wheat and barley, and they also have a small sheep flock which they are winding down.

Dave and his wheat

Dave has been experimenting with controlled-traffic farming and direct drilling for a few years, and has so far been reaping the benefits.

While red, hard soils are a pretty obvious part of the scenery as you drive around here, Dave’s soils are dark and break up easily, meaning they’re perfect conditions for growing crops.

Dave's ace soil

But while the start of the season was looking great for him thanks to a warm, wet spring, his crops have taken a couple of hits. Firstly there was a frost in early September when the plants were flowering, meaning yields have been badly affected.

Secondly, the whole of the east of Australia is currently being hit by an insane amount of rainfall at an incredibly bad time. Farmers should be cutting the crops now, but instead combines are sitting idly in sheds and there are flood warnings in place and Dave has more time that he should to show me around his place.

Like many producers, Dave has gone from thinking he was going to get a bumper crop of high-quality wheat at the start of the season, to facing a diminished yield of low-quality , cheaper feed wheat.

The harvest here is likely to have an impact on the rest of the world too – given Russia’s poor harvest, milling wheat supplies are looking increasingly tight globally. I get the feeling loaves of bread could start getting a bit pricier.

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