Harvest downgrading fears allayed

Harvest downgrading fears allaye

Cropping
Ben Batters, St Arnaud, in a paddock of Scepter wheat.

Ben Batters, St Arnaud, in a paddock of Scepter wheat.

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Farmers worried about crop downgrading due to rain damage have been pleasantly surprised with few quality issues as harvest resumed.

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FARMERS throughout the northern cropping zone generally received good news when they returned to their harvesters last week after rain delays, with limited reports of weather damaged grain.

Yields continue to please, while farmers in southern NSW, Victoria and South Australia retain confidence of strong yields, although harvest will be some time off yet for many due to the cool finish to the cropping season allowing crops to mature slowly.

Meanwhile, the Queensland harvest is edging closer to completion, with good quality grain partially making up for slightly disappointing yields.

"A lot of people in my area on the Darling Downs have just about finished their harvest," said Brendan Taylor, Agforce grains section president.

"Yields varied markedly but there does not appear to be a lot of crop that has been damaged by the storms over the past couple of weeks so that is good news."

In northern NSW, Oscar Pearse, Moree, said in spite of relatively heavy falls through the north of the state there was only very sporadic crop damage.

"I've heard of one case where wheat is not getting through a falling numbers test but in general the majority of the grain quality is still really good."

He said it was a patchy season, with storm-driven rain critical in determining final yields, but said even the lower yielding crops were still around average.

"There are some really good spots where yields are as high as 8 tonnes a hectare compared to 2t/ha averages, that is probably a bit of an exception to the rule, where they had good storm rain at the right time but there are also plenty of other places yielding well above average."

"I've been pleasantly surprised with how things have yielded locally and the grain quality is good."

He said frost, rather than rain, seemed to be the major issue with grain quality.

"There have been some yield and quality problems with frost, probably a bit more than we expected in some cases, but overall things are ticking along well."

Mr Pearse said a predicted bank of fine weather was ideal for a good continued run of harvesting.

"There's not a lot of rain in the short term, eight day outlook and if we can harvest right through that period a lot of people in this area will be a lot closer to the finish than the start."

Further south in Victoria, St Arnaud district farmer Ben Batters is quietly optimistic about crop prospects.

"We had a dry patch in late winter but the spring rain has been very good.

"The cool finish we are seeing at present is really helping, we've got wheat ripening and we're hopeful it will fill an extra row if the conditions stay favourable, which will be very good for yields," Mr Batters said.

"We're not sure if we will beat any records, but it is probably going to be close if things continue this way, especially if the weather stays cool," he said.

Traditionally, the growing season in the eastern Wimmera ends around the end of October, but this year Mr Batters said there was still plenty of green in the flag leaf.

"Usually November rain is only of mixed benefit for us but if we get something over the next week or two it would still probably do the wheat some good and it would not do the earlier crops any harm."

He said it was likely to be a late start to harvest.

"Unless we get a period of heat to really bring the crop in I wouldn't expect much to be happening before the end of the month."

The story Harvest downgrading fears allayed first appeared on Farm Online.

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