Debbie helps Capella family win Mark Donaldson Memorial Shield

Debbie helps Capella family win Mark Donaldson Memorial Shield

Cyclone Debbie was damaging for many in northern Queensland, but there was a positive spinoff for one Capella cropping family, helping them win the respected Mark Donaldson Memorial Shield.

The Category 4 system delivered 80mm of rain during a crucial sorghum growth stage at Don and Kev Sampson’s property, The Glen, in late March 2017.

The competition, in its seventh year, judges sorghum crops from the Central Highlands district.

Their 160ha crop of MR-Buster had a best yield of 7.6t/ha at harvest in June 2017. The average all over the crop was 1.8t/acre.

“It was a combination of luck and rain at the right time,” Kev Sampson said.

“Early storms travelled through that area to give us some subsoil moisture.

“We planted on January 20 and it didn’t come up that well, but we kept getting showers at the right time.

“The one that really saved us was Cyclone Debbie, because it gave us about 80mm pre-flowering.”

Mr Sampson said the win gave them some reassurance in their farming practices.

“It proves that we must be doing something right.

“I knew Mark through Rugby and he was a great bloke. I think it’s nice to have a bit of friendly competition between farmers in the area every year.”

The father and son grow sorghum and mungbeans in summer and wheat and chickpeas in winter on their 2000ha property.

They have been growing MR-Buster for 15 years, although they do add other varieties to their program depending on available acreage.

Previous winners include the Lund family with Pacific MR43 in 2016, Garry Gersbach with MR-Apollo in 2015, Ivan Gowlett with MR-Scorpio in 2014, Garry Gersbach with Pacific MR43 in 2013, David and Alan Storey with MR-Buster in 2012 and Alan Garside with MR-Buster in 2011.

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Image: Competition judge and CQ Commodities Manager Craig Wade with 2017 Mark Donaldson Memorial Shield winner Kev Sampson.