Corn crop comes to a head

Chal­lenges for first-timer

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - Jack Lawrie jack.lawrie@cnbtimes.com.au

CORN is one of the longest grow­ing crops out there, and where most pro­duc­ers have moved into the win­ter cy­cle now, corn is fi­nally start­ing to come off.

It has been an in­ter­est­ing year for farm­ing in gen­eral in the North Burnett area, as it’s dealt with high heat and drought fol­lowed by an on­set of flood­ing and spo­radic rain and frost since mov­ing into win­ter.

Bill Robert­son, a long-time farmer based out of Monto, had his first go at plant­ing corn this Jan­uary.

“It’ll prob­a­bly be com­ing up around Au­gust; it’s been slow this year be­cause of the mod­er­ate win­ter,” Bill said.

Bill and his wife Liz moved on to their prop­erty at Ca­nia last month.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent feel liv­ing here be­cause the crops are so close to the house whereas be­fore you didn’t see what hap­pened on the farm much,” Liz said.

Plant­ing in Jan­uary typ­i­cally means the plant will grow through the sum­mer rain­fall un­til win­ter.

In the colder weather, frost helps to kill off the fully grown stems, al­low­ing the corn to be har­vested.

This year the op­po­site hap­pened.

It was dif­fi­cult to keep the corn alive through sum­mer due to the in­tense heat and lack of rain.

On the other hand, the low frost in win­ter wasn’t killing the corn quickly enough.

The in­tense rain that came in March was a life­saver, but by then the in­creased cost of sum­mer ir­ri­ga­tion had started to take its toll.

On top of ev­ery­thing else, cock­a­toos have also been get­ting at the corn, clear­ing out small patches along the edge.

“They’re a very cun­ning bird; they only eat where they can see a flight path out,” Bill said.

Corn re­quires roughly 30 inches of rain.

Even with con­stant ir­ri­ga­tion and the heavy March rain, Bill es­ti­mated his was crop of 150 acres was sit­ting at around 25 inches. All that ir­ri­ga­tion has a cost and Bill said his last three-month power bill was $13,000.

“The seed’s ex­pen­sive, the power’s ex­pen­sive and the water’s ex­pen­sive,” Liz said.

Bill said he moved into corn be­cause it has an ex­cep­tion­ally high yield rate.

“You have to get around about $1000 an acre to make any money out of a crop and that’s im­pos­si­ble with wheat and bar­ley,” he said.

Though it’s been a dif­fi­cult task so far, Bill said he had learned from it and would be bet­ter pre­pared for next year.

“If you get the water on at

❝ You have to get around about $1000 an acre to make any money out of a crop.

— Bill Robert­son

the right time, which I wasn’t well or­gan­ised for, but next year I’ll have flood ir­ri­ga­tion,” he said.

BROWN PATCH: Bill Robert­son’s first corn crop is fi­nally com­ing through af­ter an up-and-down year. PHO­TOS: JACK LAWRIE

Cock­a­toos tar­get­ing the corn crop can be a ma­jor nui­sance.

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