Darling Downs farmers David and Tanya Peters have plenty of reasons to smile after harvesting an almost record-breaking crop of corn this season.
The couple's 80-hectare crop of Pioneer Seeds P1756 recorded an average yield of 12 tonnes per hectare.
"It's one of those once in a lifetime crops," Mr Peters said.
"I've never grown a crop like it before, and I hope to be able to again, but all the ducks lined up for this one," he said.
The Peters are based at Hillcrest, Allora, and farm 800ha of cultivation in the district.
Mr Peters' family have deep roots in the area, with a block his great-grandfather selected at Freestone remaining in the family to this day.
The district's black self-mulching clay soils are known for producing quality crops but this one was so good it sparked plenty of chatter with the neighbours.
"The whole district driving past had been talking about the crop of corn and there'd been bets on what it was going to yield," Mr Peters said.
"When we put the header in we knew it was good and the yield monitor was saying 12+t/ha.
"We rang Ben Thrift from Pioneer to bring the weigh bin out and I think he thought we were having a lend of him when we told him what we thought it was yielding."
When Pioneer Seeds brought out the weigh bin the crop recorded 12.3t/ha, just shy of the Darling Downs record of 12.5t/ha.
Mr Peters said the test weight had also been tremendous, measuring around 83kg/ha.
A percentage of the crop had been forward sold to the Corson mill at Warwick but there was "plenty more to sell".
In a bid to avoid the crop being impacted by fall armyworm, Mr Peters made the decision to plant earlier than he ever has before.
While there were a few sleepless nights due to frost, the decision paid off and he did not have to spray at all for fall armyworm.
"We were of the opinion we either had to go early or forget about it to try and dodge the fall armyworm pressure," he said.
"Fall armyworm apparently die out through the winter and then they've got to come back into the area again throughout the summer, so it takes a period of time for that to happen.
"So the early stuff gets through easier, that's how it seems to have worked this year, that's the theory."
I've never grown a crop like it before, and I hope to be able to again, but all the ducks lined up for this one.- David Peters
The crop was planted by working man Andrew Moore with a John Deere MaxEmerge on September 1 and 2 at a rate of 35,000 seeds per hectare.
"The paddock recently had an application of chook manure and then it would have had 300kg/ha of urea and about 25kg/ha of starter at planting," Mr Peters said.
Urea was applied to the paddock, which was planted to sorghum the previous summer, in front of rain with an Amazone spreader.
Chook manure is applied to paddocks on a three-year rotation using a heavily modified Grizzly spreader.
"We planted it and got it up with a reasonable establishment," Mr Peters said.
"When it was up, probably about a foot high or so, is when the rain started.
"It had a wet period, then a bit of a dry period, then really wet right through to the end."
Mr Peters made the switch to using precision planting gear about seven years ago and said the machinery was "worth its weight in gold".
"It's changed our summer planting tremendously," he said.
Mr Peters' working man also planted 65ha of the new Pioneer Seeds variety, P1837.
The paddock was planted on October 18 and received the same applications as the September crop.
"It got real wet just when it was coming out of the ground, which knocked the establishment around considerably," Mr Peters said.
"It's looking pretty handy now though."
The later planted crop was also not impacted by fall armyworm.
Looking ahead to next summer, Mr Peters said they would look at planting early again and had proven corn could "handle a fair amount of frost when it's young".
Pioneer Seeds northern regional sales manager Adam Pitman said it had been a successful harvest for many of the farmers who had planted early corn crops on the Darling Downs.
"P1756 is our main processing hybrid in Australia and gets used a lot for human consumption but can be used as feed corn or silage as well," Mr Pitman said.
"It is also the first season for our new hybrid P1837 and it has been performing exceptionally well."
Mr Pitman said farmers had managed fall armyworm well this season.
He said correct monitoring and, where needed, control strategies had also allowed for successful later planted crops.
This has put confidence back into the market and Mr Pitman expects more corn will be planted next season.
When Australian Community Media visited Mr Peters, the last of his 280ha sorghum crop was being harvested.
Mr Peters said the sorghum harvest had also been exceptional, with the crop averaging around 9t/ha.
The sorghum country was planted with Pacific Seeds varieties MR-Bazley, MR-Taurus and Resolute and received about 250kg/ha of urea.
While all three varieties had performed well, Mr Peters said he has a soft spot for Bazley as it has always looked after him in the past.
The crop has been sold to Grainx Australia at Allora and will be sent to China.
Harvest has not been without its challenges, however Mr Peters said he had been fortunate in that his crops were not in flood-affected areas.
The district has almost received its average annual rainfall between January and March.
"We've had a little bit of downgrading and loss through the wet weather," Mr Peters said.
"I was really nervous, we had the best crop of sorghum we'd ever grown getting all that rain."
Given the wet summer, Mr Peters made the decision to upgrade his harvester to a Claas Lexion 760.
He said it was a good investment and had already made a "remarkable difference" in reducing compaction and allowing them to get onto the paddocks faster after rainfall.
The tracked harvester was purchased from Claas Harvest Centre at Dalby.
This summer Mr Peters also grew 220ha of Opal-AU mungbeans.
Unfortunately the crop didn't have a great establishment and there were losses due to all the wet weather.
"I suppose you'd say the sorghum and corn is the best crop we've ever grown and the mungbeans is the worst crop we've ever grown, so it's not all roses," he said.
"But we've got no complaints here, it's happy days really."
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