Corn crop comes to a head
Challenges for first-timer
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.