THE NEAR-perfect season through Western Australia and parts of South Australia is dragging Australia to its biggest year of wheat and canola production on record and its second-biggest year for winter crop production overall.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences said it expected a winter crop of 62 million tonnes, with wheat making up 36.6m tonnes.
This pushes total production a whisker below last year's record, while wheat is up 1 per cent year-on-year.
Canola production is tipped to rise 4pc to 7.3m tonnes.
The ABARES figures come in spite of the well-publicised damage to crops in parts of NSW and Victoria due to flooding.
But ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said even on the east coast yields were still well-above average.
Mr Greenville said Victoria may also push close to record production, even allowing for relatively-widespread areas of crop damage caused by heavy spring rainfall.
His comments were backed up by Brim croppers Brad and Will Martin.
"We haven't got too far through, we're only on our canola but so far it has been a very good result, which is great considering the rain we had and the wet spots you could see in paddocks," Brad said.
"Both yield and oil levels are very good."
Bulk handler GrainCorp has recorded its busiest week of the season, taking in over 1.5m tonnes for the week to Monday.
NSW was responsible for over half of that, with 828,000 tonnes, while receivals are finally gearing up in Victoria as well, with 542,000 tonnes.
The focus is still primarily barley and canola in the south but from southern NSW and north there are substantial volumes of wheat starting to hit the network.
Read more: GrainCorp gears up for tough harvest
John Watson, Berriwillock, said the lentil crop may have been sown too early and "wasn't really good".
"It grew too high and wanted to die, so that's going to be a disappointment to us - the vetch hay was washed out, we converted the barley hay into grain, which was a good decision," Mr Watson said.
"The barley is very good, the yields are fantastic on pretty tough country - it's probably doing 4t/ha, on an old swamp, which is marvellous."
He predicted above-average yields for his wheat.
Chickpeas would not be harvested until January, as it was too cold and they didn't pod "until the sun came out".
"We sowed on a Mallee season (dry conditions) and had a Wimmera spring," he said.
"To have virtually 10 weeks of rain in the 10-60-millimetre band week after week is unheard of."
Planfarm Advisory farm business advisor Dan Toohey said canola yields in the north of the state were potentially a little bit better than expected, but it was very much "hit and miss across the board".
Mr Toohey said barley and wheat crops were looking good, but here were reports some wheat had late head blight damage, potentially knocking back yields for producers who didn't apply much fungicide last year.
"Faba beans are a very mixed bag - that chocolate spot is running rampant across a lot of crops," he said.
"That's just because of the wet conditions, so yields could be quite sporadic there, and quality is also a concern.
"For lentils, they're looking quite good - especially the ones that were able to keep out of the water and make their way through."
Christine Plant, Manangatang, said farmers in the area were disappointed in Compass and Commodus barley.
"The rain and wind has resulted in head loss - I spoke to one farmer, who estimated he had 1.2 tonne a hectare, on the ground," she said.
"That is a significant loss."
"They are now re-open, with 40 kilometre and hour speed limits," Ms Plant said.
Bec Marshall, Normanville, said the growing season had finished with more moisture than when it started.
"We are not used to seeing soil moisture increasing in October," she said on social media.
The property received 144-170mm of rain in October.
"We are finally starting to get into the harvest," she said.
"In the last week we have made a good start, but we are good month behind."
She was expecting average to slightly above-average yields on the wheat, barley, canola, lentils and oaten hay.
"It's been very topsy-turvy," she said.
"We started off so well, the Mallee probably never looked better but that October rain really took away that potential."
She said there were also logistical challenges in getting the crop off, due to wet paddocks and the poor condition of the roads.
It had been hard to get bagging equipment onto paddocks, a problem compounded by the state of the roads leading to fields.
Ian Arney, Werrimull, said he'd heard of issues with headers getting bogged, and he had a spray truck get stuck recently.
He was yet to harvest chickpeas.
"They are still very healthy, they are bright green and they are still flowering and podding - they didn't have a lot of pods on them, which was really concerning, but in the last two weeks that's changed significantly with a little bit warmer weather," he said.
"There's some really good crops up here and some really disappointing ones, people have got what's believed to be fusarium (a soil fungi) in their wheat,' so they have got small grain."
Others had "beautiful" crops, with one local cropper saying he expected to have a return to close to three tonnes a hectare from his wheat.
A hail storm, several weeks ago, knocked much of the barley crop to the ground.
He said he still managed to get 1.1 tonnes a hectare yields.
"It had actually done something I had never seen before, in some of the heads that were still quite 'sappy' it's knocked all the whiskers off but it hasn't taken the grain out of the head, nor has it snapped the stems," he said.
Field peas were expected to average between 800 kilograms and three tonnes a hectare.
The property was sitting on 18-20 inches of rain (45 millimetres-50mm), for the year, compared with 10-12 inches in a normal year (25-30mm).
"We've had three different lots of rust and what is believed to be fusarium - the issue the Americans have because of cold and wet periods," he said.
"It's better than average."
Matt Rohde, Lorquon, was one producer who had problems with bogged equipment.
"It's just a matter of picking where all the wet areas are," Mr Rohde said.
"Quality wise, the majority of the barley has been feed one grade, with the test weight being a little on the light side."
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