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Lucerne base of new fodder farm at Chinchilla

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

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.

Topics:  chinchilla lucerne