No place for panic as crop challenges arise

No place for panic as crop challenges arise

TAKE TIME: When quality issues rear their head, croppers are reminded not to panic, but to consider options such as cleaning grain, on-farm storage or alternative markets.

TAKE TIME: When quality issues rear their head, croppers are reminded not to panic, but to consider options such as cleaning grain, on-farm storage or alternative markets.



Harvest is approaching quickly – and even beginning in the earliest areas – signalling one of the final chapters for the 2017-18 season.

For many, the challenges have been climatic but the impact is likely to be felt at harvest, with reduced potential yield or quality issues.

Yield is a reflection of what could have been. Quality is what you are dealing with at the local silo.

We are already fielding calls about grain with both real and potential quality issues.

The beginning and end message to this is, “don’t panic”.

We need to firstly know what we are dealing with in terms of quality, then develop an action plan from there to achieve the best financial outcome.

For something different let’s look at a flying analogy. If the engine cuts out you have two choices.

Number one is panicking, putting your hands up and placing the problem in the ‘too hard basket’.

Number two is assessing your options. “Can I make it there, or if I can’t make it there what is my alternative plan?”

Unfortunately, the outcome of the first option can be a bit nasty.

While a grain quality issue should not end in a literal fiery mess, you can burn a lot of money by panicking and making rash decisions.

Take a step back and assess the options available.  

So, how can you plan for something you don’t know?

The number one rule is simple; do not jump to a conclusion driven by emotion.

Going out into the paddock and doing your own visual assessments for yield is a critical part of grain marketing, but visual assessments on quality are highly variable.

What makes it harder is that nine times out of 10, your own assessment will reflect your intuitive thinking, and this is presently likely to be overly critical. Actual harvested grain is different to handpicked samples.

Testing of harvested grain is the only way to establish exactly what you are dealing with.

Once this is done, you will either have a good surprise, or your hunch will be confirmed.

It is also worth checking test data for trends.

For instance, if you had low oil canola that was significantly different to other delivered loads, ask yourself where it came from on the farm and if there were any issues that could be managed on-farm. 

What options are available if you do have poor quality?

You could take it back on-farm and clean it.

This especially applies to pulses, as the grade specifications are tight and washing out a contract in a strong pulse market will be cost prohibitive.

Cleaning it could bring it up to a higher specification, although cleaning grain is not free and you will always loose tonnage in the cleaning process.

Cleaning grain is purely an economic decision and may not be worthwhile, particularly when grade spreads and time are considered.

Evaluate grade spreads on any contracts, as delivery of the lower grades may be possible and result in a higher financial return. 

Another option is utilising the domestic or container markets.

These markets can often manage your specific quality issue and can offer a viable alternative to putting it in the warehouse.  

If you cannot deal with it at the time and on-farm storage is available, a viable option is to store grain and manage your specific problem after harvest, when time permits.

If this is an isolated paddock and quality is an issue, then blending on-farm may present as an opportunity.

We often find that holding grain of lower quality can provide a better net benefit.

This is because the market has a happy knack of sorting quality issues; all that is required is a dose of rational thinking and time.

Unfortunately, both of these are not always freely available at harvest. 

Sometimes it is necessary to stop the header and just invest the time to sort out issues.

It helps to be able to bounce decisions off others to check your thinking or come up with other ideas. Ideally, this is where third party advice helps.

Calls can be made and ideas proposed on your behalf without holding up harvest but you can also seek the opinions of family or employees. 

At the end of the day, it is what it is. Take a step back and fully consider your options, then create an alternative plan.

Do not panic as the resultant financial outcomes will nearly always be better when you have a fully-considered plan of attack.

  • Details: 08 8841 4500 or

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