MALLEE wheat farmer Chris Kelly says it has a good complexion, a slightly white sheen and a dense canopy that has ensured that the long rows of wheat have virtually joined at the top.
Old-timers like his late father Frank might simply say that it's a "wheaty-looking crop".
Sitting at the wheel of his harvester yesterday, edging through the wheat crop at about 8 km/h, he looks out the dusty window and remarks: "This is a magnificent crop on the right of us."
But it's all relative. What's magnificent in the more productive and deeper sandy parts of the paddock is evened out by other pockets in the paddock.
So that overall, Mr Kelly and his wife Janice expect to harvest a crop of about 2.5 tonnes to the hectare in this paddock.
It's a figure that equates to the long-term average for the Kelly's 1600-hectare farm in Woomelang.
But perhaps more importantly, it will be their biggest harvest in four years.
Mr Kelly started up his header on Friday - making him one of the first Victorian wheat farmers to do so - and began harvesting a wheat crop that has been much anticipated on his farm and throughout Victoria's wheat growing regions.
After more than a decade dominated by drought, Victoria's wheat farmers could produce a larger than average crop.
But the results will not be the same for everybody.
Further south, in the Wimmera, many farmers have been readying for above-average yields after receiving good "growing season" rain.
But the November heatwave is taking off the gloss, and made some Wimmera farmers concerned that the heat ripened the grain too quickly, potentially reducing the quality.
In the far north-west corner of the state, in an area known as the Millewa, many farmers missed out on the heavier rainfall during the growing season, and are expecting below-average yields.
While Mr Kelly expects an average yield out of the "wheaty crop" he was working in yesterday, across his entire 800 hectare wheat crop he is expecting an overall return of between two and 2½ tonnes to the hectare, compared with the long-term average of 2½ tonnes.
"It's looking pretty good, all things considered. I guess we have been through a rollercoaster (emotionally) the last few years," he says.
"There were very high prices in 2007 and then a very poor crop in 2007. But the high prices actually compensated to give us an average year financially.
"And then in 2008 we had a very dry year and prices were off about 40 per cent. And so we've been looking for a year that would just help us to get ahead."
Normally, Mr Kelly doesn't start harvesting wheat until December 1, but discovered last week that some of his crop was ready.
He now hopes to harvest 100 acres a day for the next 20 days, until he's finished.
This means that he will need to spend 12 hours a day, from 8.30am to 8.30pm, sitting at the wheel of the header, stripping the crop.
Rain is likely to bring a halt to Mr Kelly's program this weekend, while machinery breakdowns are a constant worry.
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