Croppers across SA have seen a mixed bag of harvest results this season, with some regions prospering while others had a tough year, leading to below-average yields.
A total of 3.9 million tonnes of grain have been received into the Viterra network so far this season, with harvest wrapped up in most regions apart from the South East, where growers are expected to finish reaping by the end of the month.
Viterra operations manager Michael Hill said harvest in the lower Eyre and Yorke peninsulas and South East regions had been good, but the Upper North and Murray Mallee regions did not fare so well.
He said sites that had received the most grain included Viterra's Cummins, Port Giles, Port Lincoln and Bowmans sites, with deliveries of wheat, barley and canola, and he said prices across the state had been encouraging.
"The continuing strong domestic demand has been reflected in pricing, with rail sites attracting strong pricing," he said.
Mr Hill said grain quality had been "particularly good".
"Growers have provided feedback that they have been pleased with the quality of their grain, and that barley and canola have yielded well and slightly better than expected," he said.
Grain Producers SA vice-chairman Adrian McCabe agreed that it had been a highly variable harvest across the state.
Harvest on Kangaroo Island has finished, and Mr McCabe said crops on the island had looked "phenomenal" when he visited in September, with yields looking to be six tonnes a hectare for barley and 4t/ha for canola.
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Mr McCabe crops bread wheat, durum, canola, lentils and beans at Hamley Bridge, and said the region enjoyed a "surprisingly good" harvest, which ran smoothly due to good weather.
He said test weights in the area had been impressive.
"Test weights around us were fantastic, 85 kilograms a hectolitre wasn't uncommon, whereas usually we'd average 76-78kg/hl. I don't think we've seen test weights like that before," he said.
YP Ag agronomist Dom Meaney, Maitland, said croppers on the YP had seen "the good, the bad and the ugly" this harvest, with the bottom of the peninsula faring well while the upper area struggled.
"Barley was probably the best crop on the YP in 2019, it handled the tight finish better than wheat did, and a lot of the lentils were frost-affected," he said.
On the EP, Nutrien Ag Solutions agronomist Mick Broad, Cummins, said canola crops in the region went 3t/ha, with wheat and barley generally 4-6t/ha, and in the Lock area, yields were slightly back, with wheat and barley ranging from 1.8-3t/ha.
There were a lot of very low crops this year, and it was particularly hard to pick up some of those legume crops like peas and lentils.
"Lock had up to 70 millimetres of rain in September, but it was probably just a little late. The season was OK, and people are thankful, considering that further north was horrid, but if the rain was two weeks earlier it would have made a lot of difference (to yields)," he said.
In the Riverland, Rural Directions agronomist Richard Saunders, Loxton, said it had been a "difficult and trying" season for croppers in the area.
"In general, yields were less than they were in 2018. We missed out on rain in August that we got in 2018 that set the crop up a little bit better, so yields have been down right across the board," Mr Saunders said.
He said the extent of frost damage was often not realised until headers were put into crops.
Wheat yields ranged from 0.4-0.8t/ha, according to Mr Saunders, with barley slightly behind wheat, and pulses struggling to get to 0.2t/ha.
"There were a lot of very low crops this year, and it was particularly hard to pick up some of those legume crops like peas and lentils," he said.
Many paddocks were not reaped, but grain quality of harvested crops had been good, and prices had been buoyant, which Mr Saunders said was a saviour for many croppers in the area.
GILBERTSON ENJOYS EXCELLENT YIELDS
WHILE it has been a trying harvest for most regions across the state, farmers in the South East have enjoyed a successful cropping season.
Brett Gilbertson, Gilbrae, Rendelsham, runs a rotation of wheat, canola, broad beans and barley, and with harvest about halfway through, he has been pleased by yields so far.
"We're so conscious of how tough it's been in other areas though - it's great that we're having a good year but it's unfortunate that others are having a tough one," he said.
So far, on-property yield records have been broken, with some of his barley crops yielding 11 tonnes a hectare, and canola going 5t/ha.
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"We've been aiming for that for a while but haven't got it, but the season suited us this year, with the dry winter and a damper spring," he said.
Mr Gilbertson began harvest in the third week of December, and will likely finish by the end of January. He has just started to harvest wheat crops, which he estimated would yield 10-11t/ha.
He said grain quality was "excellent" as a result of rain at the right time, a cool spring, and a lack of frost damage.
Tom Cooper, Nutrien Ag Solutions Naracoorte, said most farmers in the South East were enjoying "solid" harvest results.
He said wheat and barley were, on average, yielding more than 5t/ha, beans were going 2.5t/ha, and many canola crops were yielding up to 3t/ha.
Most SE croppers north of Naracoorte had finished harvest, according to Mr Cooper, while those south of the town were still "chipping away" and would finish up at the end of January.
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