Toolondo farmers among farmers moving to Monola

Wimmera farming family, the McDonalds at Toolondo, are among a growing number of farmers to plant Monola®, a healthy alternative to other cooking oils developed over the past 10 years by global seed company, Nuseed.

Greg and Leanne McDonald and their sons, Shaun and Aaron, plan to sow 48 hectares of Monola this season, after a similar planting delivered higher yields and more profitable returns than any of the 480 hectares of canola they grew in 2013.

“Our crop of 413TT Monola was top of the range last year, yielding 2.5 t/ha with good oil levels,” said Aaron McDonald.

“Adding the $50/tonne premium paid by Graincorp Oilseeds made Monola one of our most profitable crops in 2013.”

This season, the premium payment for Monola has increased, with crushers in selected regions of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales offering farmers a $95/tonne premium payment for triazine-tolerant Monola varieties and a $65/tonne premium for Roundup Ready Monola.

The premium payment will be a significant incentive for the McDonalds and other Wimmera farmers who are looking to maximise this year’s returns.

Operating as ‘Wattlebank Partnership’, the McDonald family runs a cropping and sheep enterprise next to Toolondo Lake, 45 kilometres south-west of Horsham. Canola is a key feature of their cropping program, along with wheat, oats, faba beans and summer crops like sorghum and brassicas to finish off their lambs.

“While my father has grown canola over the past 15 years, he first dabbled in Monola about five years ago and we decided to try it again last year like some of our neighbours,” Mr McDonald said.

In what proved to be a wet winter, sowing the Monola on a sloping block with better drainage after the break in mid-May was a smart move.

Soil test results led the McDonalds to deep-band 50 kg/ha of urea and 70 kg/ha of MAP at sowing, followed up by two topdress applications of urea during the growing season.

According to Mr McDonald, the growing season was straightforward, with no evidence of any disease issues and the Monola was windrowed and harvested at the end of November.

“There’s no doubt that the premium payment makes Monola an attractive option, and while we are still testing the waters, we are planning to try a new variety, 314TT, this season,” he said.

Monola 314TT is the latest release from Nuseed, an early maturing variety which has produced higher yields in the company’s trials.

Michael Phelan, sales representative for Nuseed in western Victoria, advised growers to ensure they were selecting the right Monola variety for their conditions.

“We encourage growers to review the trial data for our Monola varieties to ensure they choose the one which stacks up best for their environment,” he said.

“For example, 605TT has good early vigour and is well suited to longer season environments, while 314TT is better suited to regions like the Wimmera and the northern Wimmera where spring rainfall is not as reliable.”

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Aaron McDonald, who farms with his family at Toolondo, met up with Nuseed’s Michael Phelan at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days last week.