AS some Mid North graingrowers begin to count the cost of failed crops from a lack of rain and frost damage this season, others have begun harvest with hopes of an average year.
Landmark Riverton agronomist Andrew Parkinson said many growers in the region breathed a sigh of relief after most crops were left unharmed by frost.
"We had such severe frost damage last season that it wiped out more than 80 per cent of the canola in the region," he said.
"We have seen minor damage this year, not even 10pc of wheat crops would be affected by frost.
"It is shaping up to be a pretty positive year even though rainfall has not been great."
Riverton reached 277 millimetres of rain for the growing season, while Manoora had 260mm, Marrabel 230mm, Tarlee 220mm and Blyth 210mm.
Each region had received just more than half of its average annual rainfall.
Mr Parkinson said a lack of rain meant grain quality remained a "big unknown".
"This year we had slightly above-average rainfall for May and June so crops established well and set up potential early, but we needed it to keep raining to fulfill that potential," he said.
"Yield across the board will be down by about 25pc.
"For the same period last season, rainfall was low but we had the rain at the back end to give pretty good quality."
Mr Parkinson said canola performance was a highlight of the season.
"Those crops would be about average yield and reach about 1.5 tonnes a hectare to 2t/ha," he said.
But barley grain size was a concern for most growers and Mr Parkinson expected barley crops to yield about 3.5t/ha.
"High screenings will be a major concern. The barley crops are very bulky but the lack of rain will most likely translate into smaller grains," he said.
Wheat from the area is expected to reach about 3t/ha, but durum yields could struggle because of the dry season, Mr Parkinson said.
"Oaten hay yields are below average but the quality is very good, but the big surprise was faba bean crops. They podded well and should yield about 2t/ha," he said.
The region's harvest began about three weeks earlier than in past seasons.
Yield across the board will be down by about 25 per cent.
But Landmark Pfitzner & Kleinig agronomist Michael Zerner, Eudunda, said growers at Point Pass, Neales Flat, Robertstown and some parts of Eudunda would have many failed crops.
"Yields are down across the board but the most severe would be east of Eudunda where crops are well below average," he said.
Some areas did not reach half of its annual rainfall with Truro reaching 286mm of rain for the growing season, Eudunda just 201mm, with Burra slightly below on 198mm.
Ngapala was slightly higher and received 205mm, but nearby Robertstown only reached 140mm.
"A lot of hay has been cut, but it was planned as stock feed because after a few dry years, mixed farmers are crying out for it," Mr Zerner said.
"A lot of wheat and barley was sown for hay because oat seed was a bit scarce."
Mr Zerner said higher yielding crops growing towards Kapunda could reach about 3t/ha.
Elders Jamestown agronomist Darren Pech said local growers began harvest in the first week of November and yield results were mixed.
"Definitely some pleasing paddocks but many were affected by frost," he said.
Mr Pech said rain across area was variable and well-below average.
Jamestown recorded 238.8mm of rain until the end of October, while Spalding reached 237mm and Crystal Brook 180mm.
Mr Pech said this year growers did not "pull the trigger" on hay cutting as quickly as they had in past seasons.
"Some areas have cut a fair bit for hay but because the hay market not been as lucrative as it has been about 12 months ago, some let the crops go," he said.
Potential tonnage for wheat and barley crops will be less, Mr Pech said, and likely reach from just 1t/ha to 3t/ha.
CHRISTMAS BREAK UNUSUALLY EARLY FOR PRICE FAMILY
THE Price family are on the tail end of their 2400-hectare harvest in the Mid North, much earlier than normal.
"We used to harvest right up to Christmas time," Linden Price said.
"But we are lucky to be getting what we are getting, considering the season."
Linden and Julie Price run Gum Park Farms at Narridy, with son Rob, cropping barley, lentils, wheat and beans, alongside a prime lamb operation.
They started harvest on October 20 with Spartacus barley, which went malting at their local GrainFlow site.
"Our Planet barley also went well, our highest yielding, but didn't go malting because of retention, (it) needed one more rain," Linden said.
"The lentils were also a bit frosted, while the beans had wind damage, but overall the quality has been good. We will be slightly below average, but nowhere near as bad as last year."
They have a mix of country, ranging from 170 millimetres to 240mm of rain for the year, with most falling in the growing season. They normally average 375-475mm.
The Prices have farmed in the area since 1916, with last year the worst on record.
"GSR was 140-180mm, but it was so spasmodic and not in great events and didn't seem to amount to anything," Linden said.
"This year was four rainfall events across the growing season, around 40-60mm.
"There is zilch in the tank now, so we need some good summer rains, after harvest of course."
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