It must have been one of the best known and talked about paddocks of canola in much of Victoria -- a small 30 hectare paddock near the township of Miners Rest near Ballarat.

Taming of Mount Blowhard a unique harvest

IT MUST have been one of the best known and talked about paddocks of canola in much of Victoria -- a small 30 hectare paddock near the township of Miners Rest near Ballarat.

IT MUST have been one of the best known and talked about paddocks of canola in much of Victoria -- a small 30 hectare paddock near the township of Miners Rest near Ballarat.

The reason for the noteriety is that the paddock is on the west face of Mount Blowhard and was located on the main Ballarat-Maryborough road.

The paddock is one of many leased, sharefarmed or owned by Andrew Fraser who, along with partner Rhonda Keller, crops about 800 hectares around the district north of Ballarat.

This particular paddock is leased from his uncle and it hasn’t been until the last two years that the steepest parts of the paddock have been utilised for cropping.

Mr Fraser said the steep terrain required some carefull planning, chief of which was that the steepest section could only be traversed going down the hill.

Mr Fraser said “all machines must go down the hill”.

He said the steep section had firstly been cultivated to enable a rock picker to operate on the paddock’s red soils.

The rocks were removed from the paddock via front end loaders that had to reverse back down the hill to pile the rocks near the fence line.

Canola was the crop planned for the paddock and after experiencing problems with slippery soils the previous year, more planning and timing was put into the spraying schedule this year.

The canola was sown in April using an airseeder -- with the steepest section sown going down hill -- the machine being owned by Mr Fraser but operated by local Ben Hull.

After a “reasonably” good growing season the paddock was windrowed (with the steepest section downhill) and harvested in mid December by contractors McClellends from Sea Lake.

Again the header operator was Ben Hull and the steepest 10 rows were harvested going down the hill.

Mr Fraser said the paddock yielded about 3.1 tonnes per hectare with an oil content of around 44-45 per cent.

He said the paddock would go into wheat in 2018 before and then probably sown to pasture and/or lucerne.

Mr Fraser said it had been challenging season with late frosts affecting a number of his paddocks including 240ha of wheat adjoining Miners Rest township that had to be cut and baled.

He said an indicator of the potential of the crops was that other wheat paddocks on higher ground had yielded around five tonnes per hectare.

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