‘PER­FECT SPOT’ TO GROW LUCERNE

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS -

We hope to have 450 hectares of lucerne planted by the end of the year.

LUCERNE pro­duc­tion is ramp­ing up at a sprawl­ing new fod­der farm south of Chin­chilla – and Ti­tan 9 is a key part of its suc­cess.

In a bit more than two years, farm man­ager Ken Sch­midt has turned a dry­land crop­ping farm in the Hopeland area and a graz­ing property a few kilo­me­tres fur­ther south into lush lucerne-pro­duc­ing coun­try.

With the tran­si­tion into fod­der pro­duc­tion, Mr Sch­midt has 220 hectares of lucerne grow­ing un­der cen­tre pivot ir­ri­ga­tion.

“We hope to have 450ha of lucerne planted by the end of the year,” he said.

Mr Sch­midt moved to Chin­chilla from the Bris­bane Val­ley in 2011, to es­tab­lish the oper­a­tion and man­age the farm.

“It is the per­fect spot to grow lucerne,” he said. “There are plenty of dry days to make hay, the hu­mid­ity is low and we have plenty of wa­ter.

“It does get a bit cool in win­ter, so that’s why we have planted a lot of win­ter-ac­tive lucerne.”

He planted 70ha of Ti­tan 9 win­ter-ac­tive lucerne on April 25 last year and said he had found it to be one of the bet­ter va­ri­eties for the farm.

“I tested sev­eral dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties here be­cause the grow­ing con­di­tions are dif­fer­ent from what I’m used to and Ti­tan 9 and Ti­tan 7 are out­per­form­ing the rest,” he said.

“Their ger­mi­na­tion and plant es­tab­lish­ment were bril­liant, with nice thick plant stands and good yields.”

Yields had been con­sis­tently more than two tonnes a hectare per cut, with cuts ev­ery month in sum­mer.

Mr Sch­midt said the yields tended to de­pend on the coun­try, with Ti­tan 9 av­er­ag­ing 2t/ha per cut on the mar­ginal sandy clay soil, but 2–3t/ha per cut on the black, self-mulching clay.

He said most of the lucerne was baled into large bales, and with the low hu­mid­ity, the bal­ing win­dow lasts from about mid­night un­til 9am.

“I can mow a 46ha pivot in seven hours, rake it two or three times and then bale it, in around five or six hours,” he said.

“We pick it up the next day and can be wa­ter­ing the block within 24 hours of bal­ing.”

Mr Sch­midt said Ti­tan 9 came back well af­ter cut­ting.

“The crown seems fairly ro­bust and we’ve had no prob­lems with tyre dam­age or dis­ease,” he said.

In terms of qual­ity, Mr Sch­midt said the lucerne was rated AA and had seen grow­ing mar­ket de­mand.

“The Ti­tan 9 lucerne has a fine stem and good leaf re­ten­tion,” he said.

“We haven’t seen it go­ing rank, like some of the win­ter ac­tives can do.”

The farm is in close prox­im­ity to more than 20 feed­lot op­er­a­tions.

For more in­for­ma­tion about Ti­tan 9, visit AusWest Seeds at www.auswest­seeds.com.au, or phone 1800 224 987.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

GROW­ING AHEAD: Ken Sch­midt has found the win­ter ac­tive lucerne, Ti­tan 9, to be one of the bet­ter per­form­ers on his Chin­chilla farm.

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