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Talents combine to boost family business

Brothers-in-law Cameron Power (left) and Evan Murphy (right) harvesting near Ruatoki, Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Talents combine to boost family business

2005/06 Season

Owners: Power Grain
Farm location: Eastern Bay of Plenty
Farm size: 730 hectares
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: 33J24, 34G13, 34E79, 36B08
Number of seasons growing: 25


The appeal of combining personal skills and growing the family business was the catalyst for Cameron Power and his brother-in-law Evan Murphy to return to their family maize growing enterprise Power Grain based in Whakatane.

Cameron had spent several years working as a builder before he and Evan purchased Cameron's father Robert’s contracting and maize growing business in 2002.

The two have combined a practical set of skills to keep the operation low-cost and hold a vision to grow in size through the Eastern Bay region. The many stages involved in maize cropping means both are able to have clearly defined areas of control within the operation.

With Evan’s background as a diesel mechanic, specialising in John Deere equipment, he is well placed in the role of looking after machinery. Other responsibilities include co-ordinating planting, harvesting and hybrid selection.

The machinery used by Power Grain is meticulously maintained and therefore proves to be reliable and cost-efficient to operate. This season they invested in a near new John Deere 9550 eight row harvester.

Cameron looks after property leases, a task that is no mean feat. He also liaises with customers and arranges spray programmes across the crop which extends from Whakatane to inland Te Teko, and across to Ruatoki.

Evan and Cameron have combined their skills to create equipment that is put to good use in the business. This includes a six metre set of cultivating discs and a purpose built trailer to accommodate the eight metre combine head.

Power Grain operates across a variety of soil types and growing environments, with Pioneer hybrids offering a good match to their varied conditions. The richer, high yielding country around Whakatane delivers good yielding crops with Pioneer® brand 33J24.

The Te Teko country is planted with Pioneer® brand 34E79 and Pioneer® brand 36B08, both of which deliver good standability and drought tolerance on the light sandy soils that rarely escape a season without some moisture challenge occurring.

The most challenging conditions come on the wet country around Ruatoki. Despite the sandy soil profile, underground springs make the area risky for harvesting, particularly in seasons like the last when Whakatane region received over 300 mm of rain in six weeks.

Planting Pioneer® brand 34G13 ensures the crop "gets out of the ground quickly" says Cameron, and they aim to harvest by mid-June at the latest to avoid getting caught in the wet ground.

Pioneer hybrid trials are also conducted on an on-going basis, further cementing a relationship between Genetic Technologies founder Philip Yates and Cameron’s father Robert, that goes back twenty years.

With greater pressure than before on land prices around the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Power Grain is looking further afield to grow the business.

Cameron says this is the greatest physical challenge, competing with other intensive land users. However he is confident the business his father started 25 years ago from his 40 hectare dairy farm has potential to continue to grow even further. He attributes much of the successful use of Pioneer® brand hybrids to date, to the timely and knowledgeable advice received from Pioneer field staff.

"By growing our area we will benefit from economies of scale. Maize growing offers us a good lifestyle in a great region, and we are keen to take it further."