Harvest hopes

Northern Mallee cropper Gerard Curran.NORTHERN Mallee cropper Gerard Curran (pictured last month) expects to start harvesting his 4000 hectares of Yitpi wheat next week, if it stops raining.

He said while yields could go 2.5t/ha or better, they would not be as good as last season.

“We didn’t have a real wet winter this year, compared to the last,” he said.

However, a 500ha canola trial on-farm this season did go better than expected, yielding nearly 1t/ha and recording an oil content of 43-44 per cent.

“We’re pretty happy with that,” he said.

The Curran family business, which also includes sons Adrian and Daniel, plan to increase their canola planting next year, weather permitting.

Crop forecasts are predicting one of the largest Australian crops on record, with estimates for wheat varying between 25 million tonnes (ANZ) and 25.6mt (Rabobank).

Harvest got back into full swing in north-western NSW, until scattered showers Tuesday night meant time off mid-week.

Further south, Riverina and north-east Victorian growers are concerned by the threat of rain of up to 60mm, although figures are likely to be much less in Victoria’s western cropping regions.

In SA, Viterra reported deliveries of 243,000t for the week, primarily on the Eyre Peninsula where canola harvest is in full swing.

Through Western Australia, where crop condition is excellent, there have been problems with getting harvesting weather, due to persistent rain and humid conditions, although growers say it is too early to assess whether there will be any downgrading of crops as yet.

Canola is the major crop being harvested in southern Australia for now, and the high value oilseed is proving a godsend on the price front, given the falls in cereals in the past three months.

NSW producer Dan Cooper was pleased with the way his canola was yielding at Grenfell.

“It’s up around 1.5t/ha so far, when I would have taken 1.2t/ha if you’d offered it to me before harvest,” he said.

He said oil levels were particularly good, up about 44 per cent – much higher than usual.

Ouyen farmer Ian Hastings said oil levels were also good in his area, but frost had done more damage than first recognised.

“We’ve got patches in one of our blocks where the yield monitor is reading zero, there was more damage than we thought,” he said.

Mr Hastings said yields were reasonable, although not as good as hoped.

In the Victorian Mallee, he said farmers were harvesting barley and canola.

“The barley has been interesting, protein levels have been low, and we think that it must be that last year’s rain leached a lot of nitrogen out on the sandier soils.

“We fed the crop pretty hard, but obviously not hard enough.”

Across at Robinvale, Gerard Curran said while the 600ha of Hindmarsh barley he harvested last week went 2t/ha, the protein levels were also well down.

“I think the quality was down because of the paddock being back-to-back barley and the big year last year,” he said.

“The yields were down a bit as well, from 2.5t/ha last year, maybe there was more mice damage than we thought.”

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