AS winter crop harvest gains momentum across Australia, growers are on track to produce one of the largest crops on record in a year hallmarked by a massive chickpea crop in the east and exceptional yields and oil content in canola throughout.
While the season hasn’t been without its challenges of flooding in central NSW, wild storms in South Australia, frosts in Victoria and Western Australia and depressed prices for cereals, farmers are buoyed by above-average production levels across wide reaches of the cropping zone.
Harvest rolls into NSW
In the eastern states where harvest is 3-4 weeks late in most areas due to the cool, wet spring, the majority of the crop is off in Central Queensland as the harvest focus moves southwards to the Darling Downs and NSW/Queensland border areas.
Graincorp reports the first deliveries for northern NSW have been received across the Moree North and Burren Junction zones, with other regions expected to start deliveries this week as expected dry weather allows the crop to ripen.
Only limited deliveries have been received across southern NSW and Victoria so far.
As of yesterday, 859,000 tonnes had been delivered into the Graincorp system in Queensland, 330,000t in NSW and 27,000t in Victoria.
SA harvest in full swing
In South Australia, receivals across the state are steadily increasing with more than 402,000t delivered into Viterra’s sites over the past week.
Harvest in SA’s Western Region is in full swing with more than 306,000t of grain received over the past week.
Deliveries slowed at the end of the week due to poor weather conditions.
Lentils have now started coming off in the region, with Wharminda receiving some lentil deliveries last week.
Viterra’s Thevenard site broke its daily receival record three days in a row. A new daily record of more than 14,000t was reached on November 11.
Harvest in SA’s Central Region remains steady with 88,000t of grain received into the system last week.
Receivals in SA’s Eastern Region have increased with Alawoona, Pinnaroo, Strathalbyn and Tailem Bend taking their first grain deliveries in the past week.
Record receivals at Geraldton
In Western Australia, harvest is ramping up with slightly more than two million tonnes of grain received on the way to an estimated total crop of 13 – 14 million tonnes.
CBH general manager of operations, David Capper, said Geraldton had come under significant pressure last week with sites breaking receival records.
“Moonyoonooka broke its all-time daily receival record on Tuesday by receiving 11,830 tonnes,” Mr Capper said.
“This demonstrates just how busy things are up in the northern part of the state. Canola yields in some areas have resembled good wheat yields. This has caught out a number of sites which have not been able to extend hours quickly enough to provide growers with the service they need.”
In the northern farming area, the Geraldton zone has just passed the one million tonne mark, hitting one-third of its estimated three million tonnes.
Deliveries to the end of last week were made up of 586,000t of wheat, 86,000t of lupins, 94,000t of barley (of which more than half is malt) and 255,000t of canola.
CBH’s Geraldton Zone manager, Duncan Gray, said canola yields had been fantastic and were placing pressure on main sites.
Harvest is progressing in the Kwinana zone with just over 900,000t delivered, the majority canola and barley, both about 390,000t.
Wheat deliveries commenced at the start of November with 75,000t delivered to date.
CBH’s Kwinana Zone manager, Gavin Bignell, said this season’s harvest had started later than the previous two years and was 7-10 days behind the same time last season.
“Yields with crops which have not been frosted have been very good across the north of the zone, particularly canola where a number of crops are yielding in excess of two tonnes per hectare.
“As growers move into cereal crops we are starting to see some quality issues in those areas affected by frosts. It’s a bit too early however to get an accurate picture on how much the yield has been impacted.”
South gears up
Harvest is underway in the southern zones of WA with Esperance starting to see reasonable tonnages and Albany expecting to see more come through this week.
To the end of last week slightly more than 55,000t had been delivered in the Albany zone, of which around two-thirds was canola.
CBH’s Albany Zone manager, Greg Thornton, said frosts towards the end of the growing season were having an impact on quality.
“There have been some quality issues, mainly from crops in the northern parts of the zone, and we are seeing a much higher proportion of canola being segregated into lower grades,” he said.
“We’ve had some barley come through – about 70 per cent of that has been segregated as feed barley. We have also introduced some MALT2 segregations.”
The Esperance zone received more than 310,000t last week, mainly barley and canola with some wheat samples starting to come through.
Source: GrainCorp, Viterra, CBH.