Dry means smaller crop, bulk SA barley in Tas

Liz Wells January 22, 2024

A vessel carrying 6000t of South Australian barley unloads in Devonport last month. Photo: Tas Stockfeed


TASMANIA is well into its broadacre harvest expecting to produce 85,000 tonnes of wheat, 50,000t of barley and 2000t of canola according to ABARES estimates released last month.

On wheat, this is up from 82,500t from the previous harvest, but barley is down from 60,500t, and canola is only 20 percent of the 2022-23 production of 10,000t.

The total for these three major crops is expected to yield 137,000t, down from a record 153,000t harvested in 2022-23.

XLD Commodities John Tuskin said softer commodity prices and a relatively dry spring have contributed to the drop in production.

“For the past few years, we’ve seen stronger commodity prices; now we’re seeing a more normal year with softer prices,” Mr Tuskin said.

ABARES estimated planted area for all three major broadacre crops was down from the previous season, wheat by 3000ha to 12,000ha, barley by 4000ha to 7000ha, and canola by 2000ha to 3000ha.

Bulk SA barley arrives

Tasmanian Stockfeed Services late last year took the step of bringing across 6000t of South Australian barley to shore up local feed demand ahead of the local harvest.

“It’s our first grain vessel in approximately 10 years,” Tas Stockfeed CEO Trevor Macleod said.

“It’s been extremely dry and there’s been huge demand and a difficult container supply chain.”

Tas Stockfeed brought the vessel into its facility at Devonport, and the barley is being sold as whole grain, and also used as an input in Tas Stockfeed products.

Tasmania annually brings in around 300,000t of grain from mainland Australia in containers, primarily from the Port of Melbourne, with shipping costs supplemented by the Federal Government’s Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme.

Harvesting until April

Tasmania is unique in Australia in that some of its cereal crops will spend more than 12 months in the ground, as compared with around six to eight months on the mainland.

Also, a percentage of Tasmanian broadacre crops are sown in the spring to capitalise on its long summer days.

Speaking with Grain Central early last week, Mr Tuskin estimated around 25-30pc of the Tasmanian harvest was in.

“We’ll go through to April with later irrigated crops; most people have stopped irrigating now.

“This season, there had to be more irrigated because we had a dry spring.”

XLD is Tasmania’s only year-round bulk handler, and Mr Tuskin said canola has dominated the first three weeks of new-crop deliveries.

A load of canola marked the first receival of the 2023-24 harvest for XLD Commodities Powranna site. Photo: XLD Commodities

“Barley and wheat have come on in the past seven days.”

Cereal proteins have been around average at 9-10pc, test weights have been good, and canola oil content has also been around average at 44pc.

The lower weed burden has been one plus of the relatively dry growing season.

“Harvest quality is good, with not a lot of admixture.”

Mr Tuskin said urea supply-chain issues that affected many mainland farmers have not affected Tas growers.

“There was a little bit of a pinch but we got through it OK.

“A lot of people had stock in the shed, and it’s such a small cereal crop here that it wasn’t a problem.”


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