Countryman - - FRONT PAGE - Ann Rawl­ings

The field days sea­son is upon WA, with the small but tight-knit com­mu­nity of Dowerin well into plans to host its big­gest an­nual event.

Seed­ing is com­plete and spray­ing ef­forts have ramped up, with the sea­son’s open­ing rain hit­ting fields across the dis­trict at the end of May.

Just south of Dowerin, Ucarty farm­ers Na­dine and Josh McMor­ran man­age a di­verse op­er­a­tion of crops and cat­tle.

Close to 4500ha are ac­counted for in this year’s crop­ping pro­gram, an area that tra­verses three prop­er­ties, two of which are leased by the fam­ily.

Ms McMor­ran, also the new chair­woman of Dowerin GWN7 Ma­chin­ery Field Days, said seed­ing had fin­ished sev­eral weeks ago, with 70mm of rain since May 25 help­ing to speed up ger­mi­na­tion. “We re­duced our canola pro­gram by 40 per cent, which al­lowed us to sow more bar­ley and oats,” she said.

“Ev­ery­thing has ger­mi­nated, even the Ser­adella, which Josh is happy about.”

This sea­son’s wheat plant­ings in­clude 1040ha of Australian Hard va­ri­eties Mace and Scepter and 400ha of noo­dle va­ri­ety Zen, plus 480ha of Bonito canola.

Their bar­ley team com­prises 600ha of Spar­ta­cus and 230ha of Scope, with 200ha of Gun­yidi lupins and 250ha of Car­rolup oats round­ing out the pro­gram.

A fur­ther 220ha of hay is grown for ex­port and 360ha have been seeded to pas­ture, with the Mar­gu­rita Ser­radella prov­ing to be pop­u­lar with their 150-head herd of cat­tle.

They run the busi­ness along­side Mr McMor­ran’s fa­ther, Robert, and with the help of full-time worker Sloan King, with this week’s knock­down ef­forts tar­get­ing radish and cape­weed within their ce­real crops.

“Sloan op­er­ates the Miller Nitro, while Robert and Josh op­er­ate a trailed Hardi boom­spray,” Ms McMor­ran said.

Their cat­tle op­er­a­tion com­prises Mur­ray Grey and An­gus cows, with Black An­gus bulls as well as Black and tra­di­tional Sim­men­tal bulls go­ing over the herd each year.

With calv­ing start­ing mid April, Ms McMor­ran said it was a fun time of year, par­tic­u­larly for the cou­ple’s three daugh­ters. “My girls love the cat­tle,” she said. “They feed them and know more about them than me.”

For the McMor­rans, who re­cently crossed the Tas­man to at­tend New Zealand’s Fiel­d­ays in Mys­tery Creek, the start of the year has, so far, been pos­i­tive in terms of rain­fall, with their 10-year grow­ing sea­son av­er­age to­talling 225mm.

“It has been a bet­ter start to this year. Last year, you couldn’t look out­side, there wasn’t any­thing grow­ing,” Ms McMor­ran said.

“It gets every­one’s spir­its up, but that’s farm­ing, isn’t it? That’s the gam­ble every­one plays ev­ery year.” An­other pos­i­tive start to the year has been in terms of how warmly the Dowerin Field Days’ theme of “Women in Agri­cul­ture” had been re­ceived, a topic that is close to Ms McMor­ran’s heart.

“I am pas­sion­ate about field days and I love what it does for ru­ral WA,” she said.

“I think it was my time (to be chair­woman). I feel ready (for this role). Hav­ing three daugh­ters, I want to show them that if you get an op­por­tu­nity like this, to jump in and have a go.”

Pic­ture: Ann Rawl­ings

Dowerin GWN7 Ma­chin­ery Field Days chair­woman Na­dine McMor­ran and Ciara, 5.

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