Grenfell wheat growers Rob and Mandy Taylor have had back to back success after being confirmed as state champions in a prestigious annual wheat competition for the second year in a row.
Run by AgShows NSW (the peak body for 192 shows), the Suncorp Bank Championship Dryland Field Wheat Competition is judged across four regions ahead of the state final.
To make the state finals, the top five crops in four regions are identified and then compared to determine the state winner.
The Taylors were announced at the state final in Dubbo last night, attended by the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Western NSW Dugald Saunders.
Pictured: The Hon Dugald Saunders MP with state winners Mandy and Rob Taylor, Brendan Munn of Lowes Petroleum and Ivan Truscott of Suncorp.
Rob, a mixed farmer, said the win came as a welcome surprise in a year of challenging wet conditions and the highest financial output on record.
“We had some good crops but I thought there would be others in front so it was quite a shock,” he said.
Grenfell, located in the northern part of the NSW South West Slopes usually receives 600mm of rain annually – in 2022 it was hit with a whopping 1030mm. Fortunately, timing and good management still resulted in a successful harvest.
“We got our timing of our fungicide spot on and we were fortunate that it dried up at the right time because we could have had a disastrous finish otherwise,” Rob said.
“What also really helped us this year was having controlled traffic tramlines. That made the paddocks more accessible and we could get on them to apply fungicides because there’s a lot of disease pressure this year with all the wet weather.
That combined with a well-drained deeper red soil and the most significant output in the Taylor’s harvest history, meant an outstanding crop awaited the judges at ‘Glenalla’ last year.
“We've spent a lot of money this year, there's no doubt about that,” Rob said.
“Fertiliser prices are through the roof and we spent a lot on fungicide so it’s high input, high output. The win is certainly rewarding because it’s definitely been the most expensive crop I’ve ever grown.”
The Taylors topped the central region with a point score of 218 for their 7.3t/ha, ahead of Keith and Kate Perrett in Gunnedah (7.1t/ha 215pts) and Plantation Trading in Premer (6.4t/ha 198pts). The central region covers Alectown, Binnaway, Canowindra, Carcoar, Coolah, Coonabarabran, Cowra, Cudal, Cumnock, Dubbo, Dunedoo, Eugowra, Forbes, Grenfell, Gulgong, Gunnedah, Manildra, Mendooran, Merriwa, Molong, Parkes, Premer, Quandialla, Quirindi, Spring Ridge, Tambar Springs, Tamworth, Wellington, Werris Creek, Wirrinya, Woodstock and Yeoval.
The durum wheat competition state champion, and winner of a farming excellence award was also revealed at last night’s celebrations.
In the durum yield competition, Bob and Dy O’Neil-Shaw from Quirindi scored highest for their 8.50 t/ha, achieving 238 points, ahead of Michael Smith from Moree (8.00 t/ha 227 pts) and Mitch and Cameron Waterhouse (6.70 t/ha 199 pts). Charlie Scott (pictured below), farm manager at Baroma Downs, Croppa Creek, won the TJ Dwyer Farming Excellence award after impressing the judges with his knowledge and practices.
For the O’Neil-Shaw family operation, son Jack O’Neil-Shaw said this year’s crop was powered by a not-so-secret weapon – chook poo.
Pictured: Brendan Munn of Lowes Petroleum, The Hon Dugald Saunders MP, Dy and Bob O'Neill-Shaw, and Ivan Truscott of Suncorp.
“The cost of Urea was so high that we put 1.3 tonne of chook poo on it and even that was pretty hard to get a hold of because everyone must’ve been thinking the same thing,” he said.
“The other factor was the breed we used was Westcourt this year and its disease resistance is a bit better than some of the older varieties.”
A joint effort with wife Cecile, brother Ned, and parents Bob and Dy, and the guidance of agronomist Sam Gulliford, Jack said the family’s sights are already set on a repeat winning performance.
“It was a pretty cool achievement and now we have to see if we can back it up and do it again next year,” he said.
Heavy rainfall in 2022 impacted crops sown later in the season, and continued to present difficulties for sponsors Suncorp throughout the judging process.
“It was incredibly challenging with the flooding and wet weather and sponsors Suncorp needed to go to each farm in each region individually to inspect the wheat,” AgShows NSW president Peter Gooch said.
“With so many roads cut off, sometimes a two day judging became three days including huge detours of a couple of hundred kilometres and northern judging was pushed back a full week as Narrabri was entirely flooded.
“Weather makes it incredibly challenging and Suncorp just worked tirelessly to make it happen.”
Suncorp has sponsored the annual wheat competition for more than 10 years, a tradition Ben Graystone, Suncorp district manager for northern NSW, said the company is proud to uphold.
“It gives us great pride to be associated with the competition. It keeps our finger on the pulse with what’s going on in the farming sector, and it’s a good opportunity to meet new customers, reconnect with existing customers and it’s a great educational opportunity for our managers, assistants and our graduates,” he said.
“This year the team really pulled together to get the judges to where they needed to be and when we did get there, some fantastic crops were being judged and there’s still some great crops which is really pleasing to see.”
In the southern region, in Old Junee, Steven and and Dr Felicity Harris and J&J Gummer’s 7.2 t/ha scored 216 ahead of John Ingold & Co of Temora (7.0 t/ha 214 pts) and Baldry & Sons in Wallendbeen (7.0 t/ha 212pts). The southern region covers Albury, Ariah Park, Boorowa, Coolamon, Cootamundra, Culcairn, Harden, Henty, Holbrook, Howlong, Illabo, Junee, Puccawan, Temora, The Rock, Wagga Wagga, Walbundrie, Wallendbeen and Young.
David Smith of Croppa Creek topped the northern NSW competition with his 7.0 t/ha and score of 209, ahead of Blake Phillips from Moree in second place (6.9 t/ha 205 pts), and the Browning family of Narromine in third place (6.45 t/ha 197pts). The region covers Baradine, Barraba, Bellata, Bingara, Boggabri, Bourke, Burren Junction, Coonamble, Crooble, Croppa Creek, Delungra, Garah, Gilgandra, Gulargambone, Gurley, Inverell, Manilla, Moree, Mungindi, Narrabri, Narromine, North Star, Nyngan, Tottenham, Walgett, Warialda, Warren, and Wee Waa.
In western NSW, Ganmain’s Brent & Kendra Kerrisk’s crop scored the highest (6.8 t/ha 203 pts), followed by Greg Dickins from Berrigan (6.7 t/ha 201pts) and Josh Male from Peak Hill (6.1 t/ha 193pts) placed third in the region. The western region covers Ardlethan, Bogan Gate, Barellan, Barmedman, Beckom, Berrigan, Burcher, Condobolin, Caragabal, Corowa, Deniliquin, Finley, Ganmain, Griffith, Hillston, Lake Cargelligo, Leeton, Lockhart, Merriwagga, Narrandera, Oaklands, Peak Hill, Rand, Rankin Springs, Trundle, Tullamore, Tocumwal, Top Woodlands, West Wyalong, Weethalle, Ungarie and Urana.
Pictured: Brendan Munn of AgShows NSW and Lowes Petroleum, The Hon. Dugald Saunder MP, Brent and Kendra Kerrisk and Ivan Truscott of Suncorp.