Heat looks good for harvest after last week’s rain

Grain Central December 4, 2023

Following last week’s rain, harvesting of cereals resumed on the weekend in some paddocks, including this one at Lascelles in the Victorian Mallee. Photo: Dion Costigan

RAIN across south-eastern Australia’s cropping regions last week slowed or stopped harvest and deliveries to bulk handlers last week, as evidenced by GrainCorp’s intake figure for the week.

In its weekly Harvest Update out today, GrainCorp said deliveries in the week to today totalled 307,900 tonnes.

This is down 63 percent from 842,600t delivered to GrainCorp in the week to November 27, when the New South Wales and Victorian harvest was going at full pace ahead of the rain.

“Rain events coupled with cooler temperatures in NSW and Victoria have continued to delay receival activity, particularly in southern NSW,” GrainCorp said in its latest report.

“Growers are hoping to get back on to their paddocks this week; however, there’s some rain still forecast in these areas.”

GrainCorp said harvest activity was mostly complete in Queensland and northern NSW, where growers were looking to summer-cropping opportunities.

Week to Dec 4 Harvest to Dec 4
Queensland 300 411,600
New South Wales 89,600 2,823,300
Victoria 218,000 1,863,700
TOTAL TONNES 307,900 5,098,600

Table 1: GrainCorp receivals for the 2023-24 harvest to December 4.

Heat good for wheat

Ahead of light rain forecast from Friday, mostly sunny weather and maximum temperatures of 30-40 degrees Celsius will see the wheat harvest regain momentum across south-eastern Australia.

Most growers are back into harvest and some were going on the weekend.

In the Riverina district of southern NSW, Croker Grain managing director Jason McPherson said after last week’s rain, wheat off the header was expected into its Marrar depot from tomorrow.

“It’s just starting to get busy this afternoon,” Mr McPherson said.

“We’ve got oats coming into Henty and Berrigan, and lupins into Marrar, but we haven’t seen wheat yet.

“That should be tomorrow.”

Across southern NSW and the Mallee, harvesting of canola, barley and faba beans is close to complete and wheat harvesting ranges is estimated to be roughly 30-80pc complete.

Kelly Grains has receival sites at Tocumwal and Finley in the southern Riverina of NSW, and merchant Matt Kelly said rainfall in the wider district ranged from around 25mm to more than 200mm west of Deniliquin.

“Harvest is going again, but people are struggling to get moisture down with the humidity,” Mr Kelly said.

While wheat has lost some of its brightness and a little test weight, he said post-rain deliveries continue to be mostly ASW.

“Wheat is still holding up in relation to falling numbers and test weight; it might have lost 1-2kg, but wheat is still well above 80kg (per hectolitre).”

As before the rain, around 60pc of wheat deliveries are making ASW, a historically high proportion that indicates both a shortage of stored and applied nitrogen, and the impact of spring rain that bolstered yield at the expense of protein.

Mr Kelly said the district has finished its barley and faba bean harvest, and estimates canola is around 95pc harvested, with wheat 30pc done.

“Hopefully we have no major disruptions from here on in.”

In Vic, Wimmera grower Ryan Milgate at Minyip is harvesting lentils today after 20-25mm over his farm last week.

“It’s been difficult these past four or five days to get going after the rain; we’ve had a lot of humidity and some heavy dews,” Mr Milgate said.

He said the region’s lentil and canola harvest were well advanced, but cereals have “a long way to go”.

“I’d be a third through harvest, and people are generally one third to a half through.”

“People should be going on wheat in the next day or two.”

In the North Wimmera, reports are coming in of wheat passing the falling numbers test for ASW, although areas closer to the South Australian border that had 60mm or more may not be so lucky.

Traders said growers were selling their better-quality wheat and other commodities now if they liked the price, and appeared to be holding back big volumes of ASW and below from sale.

“They’re not interested in selling now; they just want to concentrate on harvest,” Mr Kelly said.


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