Harvest on track after slower start

Harvest on track after slower start

Cropping
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A GOOD run of warm, clear days has meant headers are in action across much of SA.

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AUGUST-SOWN: Three-year-old Angus Schmidt and father Simon in Axe wheat at Worlds End last week, which was sown in August after a mid-season burst of rain.

AUGUST-SOWN: Three-year-old Angus Schmidt and father Simon in Axe wheat at Worlds End last week, which was sown in August after a mid-season burst of rain.

A GOOD run of warm, clear days has meant headers are in action across much of SA.

It makes a change after first rain, then storms and fire-ban days, created a stop-start beginning to harvest.

Despite the weather halting action again last week, Viterra recorded deliveries of more than 680,000 tonnes into its sites last week, which makes up about half of the more than 1.3 million tonnes received to last week.

In the central region, deliveries picked up, particularly from the Yorke Peninsula and Mid North.

Platinum Ag Clare agronomist Phil Holmes said west of Clare had been harvesting for a few weeks, although with some hold ups, while the area to the east had just started after "hay baling was dragging on".

"Never in my time have I seen a season like this - usually a crop sets itself up from the start, but (not) this year," he said.

He said there was an early break, followed by a dry crop establishment period, then extremes of wet and dry months.

"There's never been such a variable season," he said.

Despite that, he said cereals were looking good, with later rains helping fill secondary tillers.

Mr Holmes said the dream situation for the coming weeks was for the wind to stay away, with a continuation of the mild to warm weather to get the job done.

He said viticulturalists in the region were also hoping to avoid thunderstorms with vines flowering.

Team Wiss agronomist Craig Wissell, Ardrossan, said YP farmers were busy trying to make the most of the first "decent stretch" of good weather for harvest.

"It's nice to have a few days so everyone can get stuck in," he said. "There's going to be a few long days."

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He said the quality being harvested so far was quite good, with yields of up to 3.5t a hectare for some lentils inland.

He did warn there were reports of snails being an issue, with several people saying they were in crops that had been baited and windrowed.

Mr Wissell said the cooler finish - up until last week - had slowed down the finish of some crops, with cases of lentils on central YP still having a "green tinge".

Despite reports of hail, wind and fire in the past week, he said damage had been isolated.

On Eyre Peninsula, Cleve Rural Traders agronomist and Cowell farmer Jarrad Schiller said the storms last week had knocked a shed down, as well as some lupins and barley heads.

He said late rain had caused some sprouting, but falling numbers were still alright.

But he said there had been some issues in getting going.

"When it's been a good reaping day, there seems to be a harvest ban," he said.

"We had some rain last week and the wind dried it out the next day."

Last week, Lock set a record for one-day receivals into the Viterra site with 8365t, beating the previous record set in 2016-17.

In the Upper South East, the first load at Keith was delivered last week, but much of that region is not expected to start until early December, says Bordertown-based D&M Rural agronomist Jessica Butcher.

She said the extra time has been helpful as they tried to wrap up a "nightmare" hay season, but prospects were good for crops, particularly with the late rain.

"We never get a good hay finish and good crop year at the same time," she said.

While there was some effects of hail in windrowed canola, she said the wet spring had created a "perfect finish to the season", with hopes high the luck continues.

Viterra eastern region operations manager Jo Klitscher said lentils were keeping farmers busy.

MID-SEASON BREAK PROMPTS CROP TRIAL

MID NORTH cropper Simon Schmidt said they "gave up" on seeding their whole program in mid-June due to a lack of rain.

"We decided to leave the remaining country (about 150 hectares) until it rained properly, which ended up being August," he said.

Mr Schmidt considered the 40 millimetres of rain a "mid-season break", which he didn't want to waste.

"We had never sown in August before, but every season is different, so we thought why not finish the program off with a bit of a trial," he said.

They sowed the last bit of country to shorter-growing season varieties Axe wheat and Mundah barley.

"It was some of our better crops for a little while, until more recent hot windy weather took the shine off," he said.

"But we haven't lost out doing it, we still have a crop there and if we didn't sow it, we would have nothing. We will harvest it and either sell it or have it as sheep feed."

Harvest started there last week on peas, then barley.

Mr Schmidt said he would be interested to see the damage cause by Russian wheat aphids, which were the worst case he had seen.

"I think the dry spell in the middle of the season stunted the crops and made them vulnerable," he said.

"Anything that got established earlier wasn't as affected, but we had a lot of late-germinating crops because of that dry spell."

Mr Schmidt said growing season rainfall had been patchy across their properties, which span from Worlds End to east of Eudunda.

They also have cropping country in the Mallee at Halidon, where there has been a "more favourable" season.

"These late rains have also resulted in awesome sheep feed, particularly in our grazing country, which we haven't seen in nearly three years," he said.

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