Harvest draws to a close

By Alisha Fogden
Updated January 6 2022 - 5:47am, first published 5:40am
STILL GOING: Viterra employee Christabelle Miels at the company's Roseworthy site, which is still a hive of activity from deliveries in the central region.

AS harvest in SA draws to a close, results from the "mixed bag" season are becoming clear.

This past week, SA graingrowers delivered another 680,000 tonnes into Viterra sites, taking the company's overall 2021-22 receivals to nearly 5.6 million tonnes.

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Viterra operations manager Michael Hill said the tonnages were similar to this time last year, and an "average"-sized harvest was expected.

However, Mr Hill did say there was some "standout" crops near Cummins, on the Fleurieu Peninsula and down near Wolesley, while Wudinna on the EP broke its seasonal delivery record.

"But areas such as the Mallee and the regions above Gladstone were not so fortunate," he said.

"It was a late start, but once we got a good run with the weather, we have had some really strong weeks.

"I think there was about 10 days from late December when we took in 680,000t.

"We wouldn't normally run so late into January, but that's because of the late start."

We had a few weather issues early, with frosts and hail, but the crop seems to have still yielded really well.

- MICHAEL HILL, VITERRA

Mr Hill said receivals were beginning to slow, with mainly the South East left to deliver significant volumes.

"It think production wise, it has turned out okay," he said.

"We had a few weather issues early, with frosts and hail, but the crop seems to have still yielded really well.

"Wallaroo, Ardrossan, Cummins and Port Giles have been our top four sites, taking in more than 350,000t each.

"We have had strong deliveries of canola, just shy of 500,000t - that's a big number and good for growers, with prices as strong as they are.

"Wheat crops were also really heavy in some of the later areas. We had some quality issues with falling numbers, but the yields were really good.

"We also saw a big increase in lentils from the Yorke Peninsula, possibly at the expense of barley."

Mr Hill said Viterra were focusing heavily on accumulation and shipping, with 20 vessels loaded so far.

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Also contributing to the state's receivals total were T-Ports, who said the 2021-22 season was again stronger than the last.

T-Ports chief executive officer Kieran Carvill estimated another 40 per cent increase in deliveries through the company's three sites at Lock, Lucky Bay and the new Kimba bunker.

He said only a handful of growers were still harvesting, but the "vast majority" of it was done.

"It has been an extremely challenging season for both growers and handlers, due to the mixed bag on quality, late start to harvest, delays due to rain, and then growers needing to deliver quickly to retain quality - there was a very short harvest window," he said.

"But overall, I think it has gone well."

Mr Carvill said their new 70,000t site at Kimba operated well.

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"We only had a couple of elevation points, so it did limit the amount of grades we could take, but the site still got filled, so we're happy," he said.

Hours have been wound back at T-Ports' Lock and Kimba sites, while Lucky Bay was still fully open.

Tomorrow, T-Ports is celebrating construction starting at its new Wallaroo silo site, following development approval last month.

The site is expected to be built in time for the 2022 harvest.

KI CANOLA: Kangaroo Island Pure Grain sales and operations general manager Dennis Jamieson checking out a canola harvest at Haines. He said canola yields had been "reasonably surprising". Photo: STAN GORTON

One area where headers are still rolling is on Kangaroo Island, where KI Pure Grain sales and operations general manager Dennis Jamieson said there was about a fortnight left for some growers.

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"Some have finished, but others are still finishing off beans, wheat and late season canola," he said.

"We have had ideal conditions for reaping this year, with minimal rain interruptions, and not too hot.

"There has been a good run of weather to get wheat off and now this cooler weather has been good to harvest the remaining faba and broad beans."

Mr Jamieson said there had been some early quality concerns, but the season had ended "surprisingly good".

"It got wet really early, really quickly, so we were worried about canola quality, but most of the crops came back well," he said.

"The canola numbers so far have been reasonably surprising, most over 2.5t/ha.

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"Barley yields and quality will be down a little bit on last year, mainly low protein possibly due to management choices or too much rain during the year.

"Planet averaged 6t/ha last year, while that will drop to 5t/ha this year. Soft wheat went well at about 5t/ha.

"We haven't got any figures on our beans yet, as they're still going."

Lower South East croppers also range from only just starting to halfway through, says Elders Naracoorte senior agronomist Jason McClure.

"It's mainly canola and barley being harvested, with some beans," he said.

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Mr McClure said it had been one of the better seasons - "not quite as good as 2018, but not far off".

"The late break did create a few issues with pre-emergent control, but everyone has been quite pleased with what they have been able to achieve so far," he said.

"Beans are yielding up to 5t/ha, which is definitely above average."

In the Upper SE, harvest is winding up or has finished.

"Generally it has been a pretty good season, the wet November did those guys more good than harm," Mr McClure said.

"There was some frost impacts and it got a little wet mid-year, but mainly yields were average to above-average. The good grain prices certainly leave growers in good stead."

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