DESPITE having their headers parked in the sheds for nearly a week, Callington brothers Nathan and Brett Wegener are optimistic about this year’s harvest.
With three-quarters of their 2000-hectare program complete, recent rain has bought harvest to a halt.
Since the Wegeners’ harvest began on November 1, they have received 60 millimetres of rain and while it has not caused crops to fall down, Brett said wheat had been downgraded.
“It was a frustration, now it’s a financial impact as well,” he said. “We were lucky to have had all the peas, canola and nearly all the barley reaped before the rain.”
But the Wegeners have recorded a farm record for canola, averaging slightly more than two tonnes a hectare.
“We’re still having a really good year, it’s just the frustration of stopping,” Brett said.
Nathan said had they received another 25mm of rain in September, it would have been a bigger harvest than last year. “The rain will come in handy for next year, if we control weeds and save the moisture,” he said.
Frost damage revealed in Riverland
WHILE farmers across the state were dreading the impact three weeks of patchy rain would have on their crops, some have dodged a bullet with yields sitting about average.
Rainfall across the state has differed, and has also varied between neighbouring farmers in the Riverland.
But with harvest under way and yields about average, farmers are not as fearful for a woeful season.
Elders Loxton senior agronomist Brian Lynch said rainfall amounts had even varied in individual paddocks but had not impacted crops as much as winter frosts.
“It's really mixed – it goes from terrible to fantastic all within the same paddock,” he said. “Essentially, farmers are harvesting for five minutes with crops pouring in, then they’ll hit nothing.”
Mr Lynch said Riverland farmers had estimated about a 10 per cent to 50pc crop loss due to frost, which was so-far appearing accurate.
But with chickpeas and lentils holding on during the icy conditions, Mr Lynch predicted they would be a popular commodity next year.
“The frost damage is probably worse in the field peas than chickpeas and lentils because they kept trying to reflower,” he said.
“Crops aren’t as good as what they could have been because there was no finishing rain to make use of that ability. The cost of the commodity is going to make the chickpeas more the flavour of the month next year while the prices are up.”
While Riverland growers have been inspecting the frost damage, South East growers have been battling heavy rain in the past three weeks.
According to Elders South East agronomist Adam Hancock, about 25pc of growers have completed a paddock or two of canola.
“Our headers have pulled up and we’re not expecting to get into it for about another week,” he said.
“Thunderstorms have been very patchy; we’ve had four to five storms and some farmers have ended up with 80 millimetres and then five kilometres down the road they’ve had 7mm.”
Although rain has caused delays, Mr Hancock said canola yields had been good at about 2.5 tonnes a hectare to 3t/ha with most canola oils averaging 47pc.
“We’re expecting all our crops to be an above average yield,” he said.
He said wheat varieties, including Mace and Trojan, appeared to be handling the rain without losing quality.