Jonathon and Tracey farm 57 hectares of certified organic and “In Conversion” certified organic cropping land in the South Burnett region of Southern Queensland.
They grow both KAMUT® khorasan, a breed of ancient wheat, and sunflower kernels for Kialla.
Kialla recently acquired the exclusive Australian licence for the KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat. This trademark guarantees that crops grown using the seeds of this ancient, unhybridised khorasan grain are always organic, GMO-free, and have not been changed by modern wheat breeding programs. KAMUT® khorasan also has higher levels of antioxidants, especially selenium.
Sunflowers are the first organic crop grown on the property, which is certified by the NASSA company. The pre-cert process involves plenty of paperwork, often not a farmer’s favourite part about converting to organic. However, Jonathan has found NASSA very helpful in the transition to being a certified producer.
The couple have additional farming land with cropping and beef, which they manage using conventional farming practices. This keeps them busy enough, since Tracey also has the task of home schooling their 5 children.
This particular sunflower crop was planted at the later end of the desired planting window. A ‘planting window’ describes the period of the year which has the optimum conditions for planting a particular crop. Farmers take into consideration things like moisture levels in the soil, and the approach of cold or warm weather as the crop ripens. This year the weather conditions really helped the crop through the growing period, despite the late planting.
The crop was harvested in early July and delivered to the Kialla mill using Corphaul Pty Ltd, a freight company with a full understanding of the importance of avoiding cross-contamination between organic and conventional crops.
This sunflower crop was grown in the 3rd year of conversion to organic and the kernels are thus graded as “In Conversion to Organic” or “IC”. They will need to reach “A Grade” or full organic status before we call them “Organic Sunflower Seeds”.
In the first 12 months of switching to organic practices, products are considered ‘pre-certification’ and can’t carry an organic logo. In the second year they can make the claim of being ‘in conversion to organic’.
Another year will pass before the next annual audit from NASSA presents them with A Grade Certified Organic status, providing they continue to meet all the necessary requirements such as using natural inputs, organic seeds etc. So next year it’s very likely, weather permitting, we’ll be selling their crop as Certified Organic.
Despite the extra workload associated with organic agriculture farmers can’t reap the rewards for 3 years. When you purchase in-conversion products you are supporting them through these 3 years. This kind of support encourages more farmers to go through the demanding certification process.
‘In Conversion’ crops are grown and processed under strict organic standards.