Quality questions remain as harvest nears

Yield lowers but quality holds


A diverse mixture of grain quality is expected to be delivered during the 2018/19 harvest period and Viterra general manager Tim Krause reassured growers that receival sites would accommodate the varied commodity grades that arrived.


HARVEST expectations for 2018-19 are for a wide range of grain quality with Viterra general manager Tim Krause saying they have prepared receival sites to accommodate the varied commodity grades that arrive.

“We have almost finished meeting with silo committees at each of the sites and will continue to work with them to determine which segregations are required by the growers,” he said.

“It is difficult to prepare for a season such as this one but behind the scenes we are setting up sites to handle as many different qualities and segregations as possible.

“Last year we had 70 different segregations and that was a reasonable year.”

Mr Krause said the season’s outcome could lean two ways.

It would either result in a tight finish with the lack of moisture leading to high screenings, low test weights and small grain or the crops would compensate and end in “reasonable” grain quality. 

“It is difficult to accurately say what quality could be like until we see trucks arriving,” he said.

“Once that happens we will respond quickly to what we are seeing.

He said growers who did deliver grain could expect high prices, driven by strong demand for stock feed.

“Across the board prices are higher and that is being determined by support from the domestic market on the east coast, northern NSW and Qld,” Mr Krause said. 

“A lot of grain will be absorbed by the stock feed market, so it will support the lower-grade grain as well.”

Independent Port Germein consultant Barry Mudge said headers were expected to hit the paddocks in the Upper North at the end of this week and, so far, wheat crop quality was “not too bad”.

“Rubbing out heads this week showed the quantity is obviously way down but the quality is still there,” he said. 

“Most of the crops had a solid ripening period but still had restricted moisture.”

Mr Mudge said barley crops were expected to be in poorer condition, compared with wheat, with early indications of high screenings and low test weights.

He said lentil crops were not showing any signs of quality issues and were sprayed this week in preparation for harvesting in about a week’s time.

“Legumes will either fill grain or they won’t, so at this stage it seems fine,” he said.

Mr Mudge said although protein levels were expected to be higher than in the past, aided by the dry conditions, there was still concern crop nutrition could impact levels. 

“We will have to wait and see if crops picked up the correct amount of nutrition,” he said.

“Crops have looked nitrogen stressed all year and we are not sure how that will manifest in terms of protein levels.”

Although some growers were anticipating the lowest yielding crops in a decade, Mr Mudge said with prices about 50 per cent higher than in past seasons, most growers had hopes for an average return. 

KI crops soar but YP fate yet to be sealed

STEADY GROWTH: Grant Pontifex, Paskeville, said chickpea crops sown on May 20 were still in need of more rain, despite growing well, and should be ready to harvest in late November.

STEADY GROWTH: Grant Pontifex, Paskeville, said chickpea crops sown on May 20 were still in need of more rain, despite growing well, and should be ready to harvest in late November.

IT HAS been a year of contrasting results for Paskeville grower Grant Pontifex as he prepares for a below average year on Yorke Peninsula but expects a bumper season at his family’s operation on Kangaroo Island. 

Cropping 2400 hectares at Paskeville and 4500ha at Vivonne Bay with brother Ben, Grant said he expected to have limited grain and legume quality issues across the board but was anticipating below average yields on YP. 

“We have had 200 millimetres of rain at Paskeville – about half of our average – but KI has had 400mm,” he said. “It is probably one of the best seasons we have had on KI but at Paskeville, the legumes will be poor unless we get more rain.”

Mr Pontifex said this month would determine grain quality and if warmer weather arrived too soon on the YP, pinched grain could occur. 

“We just sprayed chickpea crops for grubs to help with quality control,” he said. 

“We will start harvest at Paskeville at the start of November and lentils will be reaped first, then we will head to KI.” 


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