SPECIALIST sweet corn and other fresh produce grower Ed Windley considers he is more fortunate then many other farmers hit by the flood deluge – at least he will have a crop to market from his Kengoon property, Kalbar.
Ed grows sweet corn on a rolling basis to supply the fresh food business Mulgowie Farming, with plantings spaced from September to January so that new cobs keep coming off, most going to Woolworths and a few other smaller retailers.
He currently has about 20 hectares of Pacific Seeds H5 sweet corn, which was planted on December 12 and has already been submerged three times since Christmas – on Boxing day, the day after that and the more recent big flood when nearby Warrill Creek went over its levy twice and combined with the floodwater of swollen Kent’s Lagoon.
“We have since fertilised the crop and although it won’t yield as well as normal, it is worth persisting with,” said Ed, a son of John and Edwina Windley and grandson of the late noted Hereford and Poll Hereford breeder Wally King who was Edwina’s father.
Ed explained that growing sweet corn for the fresh food market was a highly specialised business. It required planting on a basis to fit in with the overall roster of Mulgowie Farming, which had contract suppliers over large areas of southern and central Queensland.
Various farmers who supplied the company had to plant five to six days a week to assure the continuity from sweet corn, which took about 70 days from planting to picking.
Ed said he had planted one Kengoon crop in mid September, then the start of October, missed November and then the present crop on December 12.
The corn is mechanically harvested with a machine that pulls the whole cobs down without bursting the wrapping and delivers them to a hopper for loading into trucks. Minimal damage is necessary to present a pristine cob of unmarked sweet corn to the customer.
While reluctant to discuss specific on-farm prices for the corn, Ed said he was paid on a per-cob basis, but nowhere near the price that customers would pay from supermarket shelves.
With up to 90ha of the property farmed, he has been growing sweet corn for about five years and also supplies green beans and red and brown onions to Mulgowie Farming.
To assure irrigation when floods aren’t about, Windleys built a 300 megalitre capacity ring tank in 2005 to be filled from the permanent Kent’s lagoon as well as licensed flood flow collection. “This year we simply filled it from water that ran off the paddock,” Ed said.
Ed and his wife Genevieve run the fresh food farming business, having pulled down all fences on the Kengoon flat country. In higher undulating paddocks on the other side of the total 300ha property, his parents John and Edwina run their Kengoon Droughtmaster Stud cattle.
“Dad doesn’t like farming and I don’t like cows, but it’s important to have some good beef to eat with the vegetables,” he quipped.
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