Record holder says look after your crop

By Country News

When New Zealand grower Eric Watson talks about growing wheat, he makes it sound easy.

Currently holding the world record for the highest yielding irrigated wheat crop in the world, the recipe to his 16.71tonnes/ha harvest is simple.

‘‘You’ve just got to look after the crop,’’ he said.

In Australia to attend the Riverine Plains centre open day last Thursday, Mr Watson said he didn’t believe he did much else better than other growers.

‘‘I don’t do anything unusual or out of the ordinary,’’ he said.

‘‘Just look after the crop and make sure it’s got everything it needs.

‘‘You just start to look at the variety and find one that will be suitable for conditions.’’

While his 490ha farm is completely irrigated, the 2016 season that produced the top crop was exactly what his wheat needed to flourish.

Having sown in mid-April, the record-breaking crop was harvested in February last year.

‘‘That season the climate was just perfect. It was good sowing conditions, dry but not too dry, it was just ideal,’’ he said.

Having seen the conditions of crops around the region this season, Mr Watson said he was shocked.

The situation in northern Victoria is at complete odds to what he has experienced at home. In Mr Watson’s region of Wakanui on the South Island they received their average annual rainfall in the first six months of this year.

‘‘I’ve just never seen anything like this,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s just totally unusually. Not only the dry conditions, but the frost.’’