Top award for mum and son

A NORTH Motton mother-and-son poppy growing team has been recognised as this season’s best with a record-breaking haul.

Kim and Coby Badcock yielded a stunning average of 107.9 (alkaloid) kg’s/ha from their Thebaine crops, more than enough to see their efforts recognised as the top growers for Extractas for the 2021/22 season. Furthermore, they set a record for the highest yielding crop grown under Extractas/ Tasmanian Alkaloids, breaking the 100kg barrier that for so long held firm.

“As we all know, poppies are grown on our farms but there’s a lot of people behind the scenes that helped us out,” Coby said, thanking his field officers, drillers and harvesters.

In recognising an emotional Kim and Coby for their record-breaking crop, Extractas Field Operations Manager Noel Beven relayed praise given by those who worked with the duo over the past two years since the sudden passing of their husband and father, Tony. “Their Field Officer Brent (McNaughton) said he has great admiration for Coby and commends him on being hungry for information and advice and willing to follow it completely to do everything he possibly can to get the best result,” Mr Beven said. Kim and Coby finished with the second-highest yielded crop last season.

The Extractas ‘Top Crop Awards’ were held in Launceston and honoured the seven top growers from the last season across the state, bringing together poppy growers and contractors. The industry is facing a raft of new challenges including declining growing areas. But Poppy Growers Tasmania’s CEO and guest speaker Keith Rice remained upbeat as he reflected on the industry’s growth and precision.

“Our story involves the application of highly sophisticated science and technology to a naturally occurring plant, to the pioneers in this industry we owe enormous debt of gratitude,” Mr Rice said. “The scientists, engineers and farmers, Department of Ag, agronomist, field officers, contractors and, of course, the government and the companies. “For the past 60 years these people have created history, we’re now living that history and playing our part.

“In 1964, we had the first trials and the first formal coming together of farmers to discuss the new-fangled crop. “In 1969 Glaxo grew the first commercial crop, in 1975 Tasmanian Alkaloids came on to the scene and in the 1976-1976 season, 2790ha were grown at a massive 3.55kg/ha. “By 1982 we had a new record of 11.42kg/ha and during our biggest ever-growing year of 30,000ha in 2013, we were at 25 kg/ha. Since 2018 both Extractas and SunPharma are sitting at around 98kg/ha.

“I know we as an industry are still facing challenges on the commercial front. I have every confidence more positives lay ahead for our industry, which will continue to be the gold standard from which international competitors seek to measure themselves. We all can be, and should be, enormously proud of this Tasmanian industry.”

Field Operations Manager Noel Beven described the past season as “an unusual one” with the North-West experiencing its second driest winter on record while rains fell above average in the south. “Spring provided the highest rainfall since 2017 and summer was the wettest for 10 years, and the coolest average growing season since 2012 was followed by the most humid January on record and heavy dews and damp airstreams led to shorter harvesting days,” Mr Beven said. “Despite all these challenges, the end result saw a very satisfactory crop with assays on budget and very good yields.”

Extractas CEO Dr Ross Murdoch said farmers were facing pressures hitting all businesses in the industry. He said costs to farmers had increased dramatically and expected the current growing area of 4000ha to remain into the following season.

The top crop awards were presented to the highest returning crop for each of the four varieties produced in Tasmania’s two growing zones, Zone 1 being the those growing on the northern side of the Bishopsbourne Road crossing on the Bass Highway, and Zone 2 being the southern side.

For Zone 1 growers, top crop awards were presented to Kim Badcock (first) and Andrew Marshall (second) for Thebaine, Justin Badcock and James Addison for Tasman, Michael Huett and Stuart Greenhill for Eve and George Griffin and Nathan Skirving for Noscapine. In Zone 2, Patrick Taylor and Michael Johnston yielded the best crops for Thebaine, Sam Bond and Andrew Von Steiglitz for Tasman and for Eve, Crosby Lune and Richard Burbury.