On The Ground: Quick comeback with Nudan at Walgett
August 16, 2016
Grower story from Cameron Rowntree, Walgett NSW.
When the rain came to Walgett last October, it didn’t take Cameron Rowntree long to turn years of drought and fallow into an oasis of green.
By mid-November, he had planted 200 hectares of Nudan, a new release forage sorghum hybrid from Nuseed.
While he had never grown summer crops, he had two good reasons to start – 40 mm of rain with more expected, plus a rising cattle market.
“The cattle market has been fantastic over the last 12 to 18 months, so I did the figures and decided to grow a crop of forage sorghum, load up on a few more cattle and generate some income,” Mr Rowntree said.
The Nudan forage sorghum was quick to respond.
“There was 45 cm of moisture in the soil from the first rain, but then we had another 180 mm of rain between planting and stocking. It just took off.
The paddock was stocked by early January.
Mr Rowntree said the Nudan provided an excellent source of feed for the first five months of this year.
“Especially in the summer it was excellent. It handled quite a few cattle per hectare and allowed us to spell other country,” he said.
By the time he pulled the stock off in June, his feed was drying off.
“I probably left it a month too long, but I had nowhere better to put them,” he said.
“The Nudan was good enough to hold the cattle until we could move them on, but now we’ve had some more beautiful rain and we’re in the game again with our winter crops.”
Nudan is a sudan x sudan grass bred for the top end forage market that offers good growth, fine stalks and soft leaves for quality hay.
Initially, Mr Rowntree had 400 cattle on the crop, but found he needed more to keep up with the growth.
“I ended up with 600, rotating them and selling them the whole time,” he said.
He focuses on good quality cattle, breeding Santa Gertrudis crossed with Angus, but also taking on Hereford, Angus and Santa pure breeds and crosses where necessary.
Mr Rowntree also cut 350 tonne of silage from his Nudan crop in March.
“At times it looked just magnificent,” he said.
“It was so tall and thick that we went in one day to muster 500 cattle and came out with 350. We just couldn’t find them in there.”
With his cattle achieving weight gains of up to 1 kg/day when the crop was green and actively growing, Mr Rowntree couldn’t have been happier.
“Despite the high prices, I was able to go and buy some more cattle, and I’ll still make money on those because of the weight gains and because the market’s gone higher,” he said.
It was a good bang for his buck decision, with seed and diesel to get him started costing an estimated $10,000.
“I will grow Nudan again if we get rain at the right time,” he said.
“I’ve got paddocks set aside for potential summer crops and Nudan’s on the plan, that’s for sure.”