THE GRAIN Industry Association of Victoria (GIAV) has estimated yields from the imminent barley and wheat harvest at more than double last year’s results, and above the current ABARES estimates.
GIAV forecast Victorian barley yields at 3.32 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) and wheat at 2.31t/ha, but warned that frost and excessive heat in southern areas could reduce both numbers.
GIAV’s estimates are higher than those most recently released by ABARES in its September Australian Crop Report, which forecast the state’s barley yield at 2.47t/ha, or 2.1 million tonnes (Mt) from 850,000ha, and wheat at 2.25t/ha, or 3.6Mt from 1.6Mha.
The GIAV figures have come from the organisation’s annual pre-harvest crop tour, which took place on October 16-17 this year, and inspected 344 paddocks of wheat and barley across Victoria and southern New South Wales.
GIAV secretary Colin Peace said the current wheat yield estimate was up 115 per cent on last year’s wheat estimate, and 133pc on barley.
Tour surveys 2070 paddocks
Mr Peace said this year’s crop tour included a visual survey of all 2070 paddocks passed on the 12,300 kilometres traveled on the four routes covered by tour participants.
Crop assessors reported only 8pc of paddocks had been either cut for hay or abandoned, compared with 26pc of barley paddocks and 31pc of wheat paddocks observed last year.
“There were a few impacts of head and stem frost throughout most areas, and the severely affected ones were in the Riverina,” Mr Peace said.
Table 3: All-paddock survey results in Victoria’s three major cropping regions, and also the NSW Riverina. Source: GIAV
The all-paddocks survey determined the number of wheat, barley and canola paddocks in each region, and whether they will be harvested, or if they had been grazed, abandoned, or cut for hay.
“While this survey did not assess the total cropped area, it did outline the relative proportions of the wheat, barley and canola paddocks surveyed.
“The outcome of this survey showed a surprisingly large proportion of barley crops, especially in the Wimmera and North-Central areas of Victoria.”
Yield estimates explained
GIAV’s pre-harvest crop tour uses the same routes and methodology each year.
Its yield estimates are modelled from tillers or heads per square metre, grains per head and grain weight factors commonly used by agronomists.
The grain weights used are 0.028 g for wheat and 0.035 g for barley, which are not the highest possible, but do assume good soil moisture for grain fill.
Yields are medians of the estimates for each region, and agronomists and analysts have highlighted that raw data such as that collected in the survey can provide yield estimates above the actual.