THE VICTORIAN harvest is close to its peak, with large amounts of grain expected to be delivered over the next ten days, barring interruptions.
Weather will be a factor – with falls of 10-30mm expected over northern Victoria today, with the heaviest falls likely in the east.
Excessive heat may also slow harvest, with searing temperatures this week in the mid-40s expected in the Mallee, likely to mean headers have to pull up.
There was some rain earlier this week, but falls were generally heaviest just south of the Great Divide, in the line from Hamilton to Gisborne, and have fallen primarily on green crops, so it is unlikely to cause much downgrading at this stage.
In the Mallee, harvest is over 50pc done, and some farmers have finished.
Matt Witney, agronomist with Dodgshun Medlin, said in his local area around Culgoa, harvest was 75pc done and farmers were into wheat, the last major crop to be harvested.
He said wheat yields through the south-eastern Mallee were generally around 2t/ha, and barley was about 2.5t/ha.
“Late rain helped the wheat, but the barley was probably finished, so unlike other areas, where the barley has been better, our wheat here has been the pick.”
Canola was generally around 1t/ha and chickpeas, also benefitting from late rain, went around 1.2t/ha.
“We have ended up with pretty much average yields, which is a great result given the amount of rain there was during the growing season.”
He said Sea Lake was roughly the boundary, with crops to the north and west doing it much tougher.
In the Wimmera, Ross Johns, who farms around Warracknabeal, said he was having an average season.
“It has been a little drier to the west of Warrack, where I am, but the guys to the east are getting some handy barley yields of up to 4t/ha.”
He is still going in canola, and yet to begin wheat.
Yarrawonga farmer Evan Ryan is still going on canola, although he said people in the area were going on wheat.
There have been a few showers early this week, but no major hold-ups.
Mr Ryan said his early canola yields were around 2t/ha.
“It’s not exceptional, but its not too bad either, it just suffered from the dry finish a little.”
He said crops grown on ground that got wet during the floods in summer this year had yielded best, with the stored moisture benefitting the plants.
On the market front, wheat prices have been firm to slightly better this week.
Emerald Group general manager of risk and pricing David Johnson said the market has been encouraged by last week’s improved wheat export figures from the United States.
He said there were good opportunities for Australian wheat into traditional Russian / Black Sea markets, due to the limited supply from those two destinations.
“With Russian exports slowing, Australia could also expect to see more demand from the Middle East and the East Coast of Africa.”