WHILE SA's grain harvest will not reach the bin-busting levels forecast at the end of winter, strong yields across the state mean most farmers will not spend too much time lamenting what could have been.
In August, many thought the crop had the potential to break the 2010 record of 10.34 million tonnes, but wild winds, frost and hot weather combined to cut the harvest forecast back to 8.91mt.
More than half of SA's harvest has now been delivered to Viterra, with a total of 4.966mt delivered by December 1, and more than 1.1mt received in the past week.
Grain Producers SA chief executive officer Darren Arney said that while the harvest haul would not hit lofty heights, the year was still a good one for most graingrowers.
"The crops did have that extra potential early on that could've got us close to 10mt, but having said that, it's still an above average year," he said.
Many farmers had avoided the rush to be finished by Christmas, with headers back in sheds earlier than usual.
"Things are definitely earlier this year, and I think that's predominantly due to the earlier sowing and the milder growing conditions which grew the crops quicker and made everything ripen earlier," Mr Arney said.
He said harvest would normally be about one-third of the way through at this time.
While much of November was mild and dry, rain this week had made those still reaping nervous.
"Memories are still pretty fresh of 2010-11 when we had rainfall events that downgraded the crop, and that cost a lot of people a lot of money," Mr Arney said. "Growers have invested pretty heavily to get the crop off quickly, and they hope that the weather does the right thing."
While harvest is wrapping up across much of the Eyre Peninsula and Upper North, South East farmers still have a way to go.
"Obviously the SE doesn't start until much later than everywhere else, but most of the canola would be finished now and they'd be getting stuck into cereals," Mr Arney said.
J&D Southwood agronomist Ian Koch, Maitland, said smaller growers in coastal areas of Yorke Peninsula were nearing the finish line, while larger farmers could be going for another fortnight to three weeks.
He reported wind damage across the peninsula, along with isolated incidents of crops flattened by heavy rain in September, regrowth because of the early finish and moist soils, snail issues and fungal staining on wheat.
But Mr Koch said these had not caused widespread losses.
In the Mallee, farmers across the region are reporting very different harvest results.
"In the northern Mallee, the vast bulk of the harvesting is complete," Dodgshun Medlin agronomist Richard Saunders said.
He said many in the region were disappointed with the performance of their crops.
"I think there were brave hopes at the beginning of harvest, but once headers started and the yields started getting tallied up, it was a bit of a disappointment," Mr Saunders said.
Further south, Mr Saunders said farmers seemed more positive about harvest outcomes. Lameroo farmers were reporting yields above 2t/ha for wheat, while those in the Karoonda region were likely to discover the full impact of spring frosts as headers moved from barley to wheat crops.
Mid North independent consultant Peter Cousins said most farmers around Crystal Brook had finished harvesting, while those further east in the Jamestown and Clare areas were still two to three weeks from finishing.
"The weather has been really good during harvest, so people have been able to get stuck into it," he said. "It's not the big year we were hoping for, but it's still pretty reasonable."
Mr Cousins said the Mid North had not escaped wind damage, with unseasonable heat also slashing yields.
Frost had also struck in patches between Jamestown and Clare.
* Full report in Stock Journal, December 5 issue, 2013.