Meet one of our oat farmers
Meet the farmer
For more than 20 years, Gerard Whitty has cultivated crops on his property in Wangaratta, Victoria. And his partnership with Uncle Tobys is almost as long.
All that farming experience has made Gerard very particular about his crops – especially his oats. “We grow the Mitika oat, a great variety that survives extended wet conditions as well as drought,” says Gerard. “I also grow canola, wheat and barley.”
A typical day for Gerard starts at 5:45am with an inspection of his 240-hectare farm and finishes at around 5pm, or as late as 8pm during the busy harvest period.
Producing oats for Uncle Tobys is a painstaking process. “We prepare the paddocks for sowing from late February into March and April,” says Gerard. “The oats are sown in April, at the same time as the soil is fertilised. By late October the plump, golden grain is ready to harvest. Harvesting of the oats usually takes a few weeks to complete, using a combine harvester and trucks."
Gerard also works as a procurer for Uncle Tobys, collaborating closely with local farmers in the Murray region to ensure that their oats are grown to exacting standards. In February, he negotiates with his local Uncle Tobys buyer on the price of oats.
“Most of the local growers in this area supply oats for Uncle Tobys products. The company provides a ready market for our oats. We negotiate pricing in February, so there’s far less worry about making a living throughout the harvest,” says Gerard. “Uncle Tobys are part of the landscape around here."