Push to get valuable SA harvest in the bin

Push to get valuable SA harvest in the bin


Differing fortunes are unfolding across the state, as graingrowers rush to get harvesters going and onto growing-in-value crops.


DIFFERING fortunes are unfolding across the state, as graingrowers rush to get harvesters going and onto growing-in-value crops.

After one of the wettest November months on record for some parts of the state, there are concerns about what damage recent rainfall has inflicted on ripe crops, but there has also been some "nicely surprised" farmers at the silo.

Salter Springs independent agronomist Craig Davis, who services the Adelaide Plains, Hills and Yorke Peninsula, said he had early reports of very good yields and quality.

"On central and northern YP, the quality and yield of lentils was excellent, with minimal downgrades," he said.

"They're just getting into wheat now and the quality and the yield is also holding up well - they will be looking at one of their best years.

"Even for the northern Adelaide Plains, where they aren't having such a good year, they will still post one of their better results because of grain prices - good prices make all the difference."

Mr Davis said there was potential for low falling numbers in wheat and barley on the Adelaide Plains, but not across the board.

"There was also some hail damage on the Lower Adelaide Plains, near Mallala, but it hasn't necessarily resulted in significant yield losses - the damage more translated into quality downgrades in pulses," he said.

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"One field pea sample had a number of defective grains and was undeliverable into the system, but we were able to sell them onto piggeries at a discount."

Mr Davis said there was also losses in both standing and windrowed canola because of the weather, but new GM technology was holding up.

"The podguard technology has stood really strong," he said.

"And you certainly notice the cleaner paddocks from the RoundUp tolerance.

"But the highest yielding canola I have seen so far has been the Clearfield.

"There are RR crops that we haven't reapt yet that are looking good though, so we will have to wait and see."

Mr Davis said croppers were "pretty excited" to see that the forecast was "pretty clear" for the next week or two.

"We should get quite a bit of wheat off and our falling numbers should hold up to milling wheat parameters, if the rain stays away," he said.

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The Bureau of Meteorology are forecasting at least a week of "mostly dry" weather.

BoM senior forecaster Simon Timke said there was a trough moving slowly across the state today and tomorrow, with possible showers and thunderstorm activity.

"But the weekend and into next week is looking relatively dry," he said.

"Croppers will get a much better run than they had through November."

Preliminary BoM results are showing that November rainfall was above average over large parts of SA, with some regions having their wettest November on record, including Port Wakefield (83.8mm); Laura (112.6mm); Georgetown (158.4mm); Jamestown (158.2mm); Wirrabara (127.2mm); and Crystal Brook (110.2mm).

"Even Riverland towns had above average rainfall for November (Renmark 44.4mm, Loxton 39.4mm)," Mr Timke said.

Interestingly, it was a different story in the South East, where most places have had either below average or well below average November rainfall, he said.

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KLR Nutrien Jamestown agronomist Joe Batten said growers in his region have only just started harvest, mainly barley and canola, after waiting for paddocks to dry out.

"The Jamestown district has been exceptionally wet, with some severe wind and hail damage to cereals and canola in the Caltowie area," he said.

"Some wheat crops east of Jamestown may benefit from this late rain, but the majority were already ripe, so I expect there will unfortunately be some downgrading of grain quality.

"Our yield potential should be around 3t/ha for wheat. But we won't know the extent of the weather damage until it hits the silo.

"It's good to see commodity prices are remaining buoyant, so even with quality downgrades, our growers should still do well."

It was a tough year to get things germinated. - MATTHEW THIEL

Pinnaroo cropper Matthew Thiel said this year had been the worst he had seen weather-wise, but high grain prices had softened the blow.

Mr Thiel, with help from a full-time worker and father Dale, crops 3300 hectares of wheat, barley, rye, canola, lentils and lupins, alongside 750 self-replacing Merino breeders.

They are about a third of the way through harvest, which had been "stop start" because of wet weather, including 10mm last week, but they had been "pretty lucky" to avoid most of the big rains and hail.

Their 200ha of lentils however got "belted by frost" and were knocked back at the silos.

"We had to send them down to Semaphore, where they still made pretty good money ($850-$900/t), even after being downgraded," Mr Thiel said.

"Our lupins weren't that flash either, as some was on virgin lupin ground, and it was a tough year to get things germinated."

They've also harvested a 'wharley' crop, which yielded about 1t/ha.

"All our second cereals were shocking this year, because of the late germination," Mr Thiel said.

"We were lucky to sell it to a local feedlot."

Mr Thiel also put in 580ha of BASF's GM canola variety InVigor R4022P, featuring podguard technology - a trait which came in handy this season.

"It was expensive seed, but the podguard technology appears to have worked as we have only had minimal damage from the wind and rain," he said.

"It was hard to get the crop germinated, however what came up had really good vigor, compared to some of the traditional [canola] varieties. Plus being able to use RoundUp on the crop has been good."

Mr Thiel is hoping not to desiccate the crop, but says it still has a bit of green throughout.

"Hopefully this week's warm weather brings it along," he said.

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