Harvest fortunes will vary across the Yorke Peninsula this year, with sporadic weather events dampening yield potential.
Farmers in the north were first to get under way at the end of October, with crops less mature moving down the peninsula.
YP AG Kadina’s Chris Davey said moisture stress had pushed some crop types through their growth stages quicker than normal during the year, which made for a slightly earlier start to harvest.
Mr Davey said once again, August rains were a saviour for YP farmers, though a dry, windy and frosty spring took the edge off any yield gain from these rains.
Grain prices also had an impact on crop rotations this year with fewer lentils and more canola, chickpeas and barley sown.
“Low lentil prices coupled with the very low lentil yields will mean that they are purely a break crop for most YP farmers this season,” Mr Davey said.
J&D Southwood Maitland’s agronomist Ian Koch said barley yields had so far been reasonable at about 2.5 tonnes a hectare to 3.5t/ha, with variable quality, but good prices would “offset some of the heartache” from a dry season.
Mr Koch said germination of crops was fairly even this year compared with 2017, thanks in-part to a respite from mice.
“No mice meant the evenness of the germination, which may have been a bit later, was considerably better than last year,” he said.
Mr Koch said while Spartacus was the dominant barley, a few farmers had been playing with Planet this year.
“It looks good with really long heads and the grain seems reasonable quality at this point, so how it pans out for yield will be the interesting question,” he said.
Team Wiss Agronomy’s Craig Wissell said while frost has caused farmers to cut cereals, hay yields were quite good and strong prices enabled a healthy return.
“Farmers had between 3t/ha to 5t/ha hay yields, so they were all pretty happy with that especially with the current price at $300/t,” he said.
Mr Wissell said the patchy rainfall and warmer soil made for staggered ryegrass germination, prompting more farmers to crop-top cereals before harvest.
Mr Wissell and his wife Cindy will harvest 1200ha of wheat and barley this year on their land near Dowlingville and Maitland.
Mrs Wissell said they “feel pretty lucky” to have escaped frost damage – due to their hilly terrain – and expected most crops to equal their average of 5-6t/ha thanks to “timely” rain throughout the growing months.
Despite the challenges offered by the inclement season, Mr Wissell expected many farmers to earn an average yield this harvest.
The September PIRSA Crop and Pasture Report, projected the total crop estimate for the YP to be 1,131,000t, the highest producing SA region.
Further south, Landmark Warooka’s Claire Tucker said farmers were budgeting on an average to slightly below average year.
“Farmers were lucky to receive 100 millimetres in August, followed by a cool, dry September and some managed to jag 15mm in October to finish out the growing season,” she said.
She said farmers may also be more inclined to travel further to deliver grain with commodity prices at Port Giles lower than silos in the upper country such as Ardrossan and Bowmans.
“The closer you can get to a railway line, it seems to be better pricing, so I think growers will be prepared to travel a bit further for a better price,” Ms Tucker said.