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Victoria on track for near-record wheat, barley crops

Grain Central, November 2, 2020

This crop of wheat at Lismore in south-western Victoria under inspection on the GIAV crop tour last week. It is forecast to yield 5.7t/ha. Photo: Elle Hentschke, Malteurop

LATE rains in Victoria’s main cropping regions coupled with a drier-than-normal winter in the south-west have the state on track to produce near-record wheat and barley crops, according to estimates from the Grain Industry Association of Victoria (GIAV).

Based on crop inspections conducted earlier this month in its annual pre-harvest crop tour, GIAV has forecast Victoria’s average wheat yield at 3.51 tonnes per hectare, and barley at 4.46t/ha.

Both estimates sit well above the latest forecasts from ABARES, which forecast Victorian wheat yield at 2.56t/ha and barley at 2.7t/ha on areas of 1.6 million hectares, and 870,000ha respectively.

When ABARES area estimates are multiplied by GIAV yield forecasts, it would put the Victorian wheat crop at 5.6M tonnes, and barley at 3.9Mt.

These are both well ahead of the ABARES tonnage estimates released in its 4 September Australian crop report of 4.1Mt for wheat and 2.3Mt for barley.

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 vs 2019
WHEAT
GIAV 3.58 2.85 1.07 2.31 3.51 +52.1pc
ABARES 3.35 2.26 1.72 2.25 2.56 +13.8pc
BARLEY
GIAV 4.06 3.42 1.43 3.32 4.46 +34.2pc
ABARES 3.40 2.22 1.88 2.21 2.70 +22.2pc

Table 1: Yield estimates in tonnes per hectare. Source: GIAV

Participation in the GIAV crop tour was limited by COVID restrictions in place in Victoria, but managed to test around 100 paddocks, roughly one third of the normal quantity.

GIAV secretary Colin Peace said the crop looked set to be one of the state’s biggest.

“It’s not quite as big as the record 2016 crop, but it’s close to it,” he said.

Mr Peace said crops south of the Great Dividing Range in western Victoria from roughly Lake Bolac to Lismore were on track for above-average yields because their winter had been unusually dry, and crops had therefore avoided waterlogging which was often a problem in colder months.

Varietal changes have also been noted as yield boosters, with Planet barley in particular growing in the percentage of barley area planted.

The season has also been kind, even though spring rain started falling a little later than ideal.

“The late rains have enabled the wheat to fill more grains across, and there’s been a lack of frost, although some crops have had a touch-up.”

Mr Peace said early rain had allowed growers to gain good weed control ahead of perfect planting conditions.

Emerald Grain regional manager of south-east Australia Brad Cullen was on the crop tour, and said early barley being harvested in the north-west Mallee was yielding around 3t/ha.

“Historically that’s quite high, and the western side of the Mallee is better than eastern side; they’ve had more rain right through the season,” he said.

Mr Cullen said a slightly darker colour was being noted in early barley being harvested on both sides of the New South Wales-Victorian border.

“The barley in 2020-21 is certainly darker than what we saw in 2019-20.”

This is probably the result of late rain, and was knocking early deliveries out of malting and into the BAR1 segregation.

“Primary tillers are pretty well complete, but the secondary tillers fed by that late September and October rain are holding the crop maturity back a bit.

Number of inspections Estimated yield in tonnes per hectare
WHEAT 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 v 2019
Wimmera 58 88 86 150 13 3.88 3.64 1.25 2.86 3.81 33.2
Mallee 65 126 111 60 29 2.45 1.99 0.41 1.44 2.63 82.6
North Central 54 98 96 204 25 3.89 2.91 0.74 2.48 3.46 39.5
Corangamite 11 13 NR 18 20 5.68 4.60 NR 4.00 7.13 78.3
Glenelg Hopkins 19 4 18 48 5 6.21 4.42 4.06 4.70 6.42 36.6
Goulburn Broken 12 64 20 54 1 5.14 4.00 1.49 2.60 4.12 58.3
Murray NSW 18 34 47 60 0 4.16 2.87 1.18 2.23 NR NQ
Riverina NSW 0 29 23 18 0 NR 1.65 0.92 1.32 NR NQ
Western NSW 0 11 NR NR 0 NR 1.20 NR NR NR NQ
TOTAL 237 467 401 612 93

Table 2: Number of wheat-paddock inspections and wheat yield estimates by region for 2016-2020. Source: GIAV

Number of inspections Estimated yield in tonnes per hectare
BARLEY 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 v 2019
Wimmera 67 63 62 105 18 5.06 4.10 1.98 4.03 5.71 +41.7
Mallee 49 97 54 57 27 2.80 2.73 0.29 2.34 3.11 +32.9
North Central 46 62 79 168 22 4.55 3.47 1.27 4.35 4.07 -6.4
Corangamite 11 3 0 3 19 5.61 5.61 NR 4.28 8.45 +97.4
Glenelg Hopkins 15 2 18 15 2 5.44 2.10 6.02 6.45 8.97 +39.1
Goulburn Broken 7 59 4 39 0 5.83 5.52 3.10 5.35 NR NQ
Murray NSW 15 14 17 21 0 3.39 3.26 2.74 4.20 NR NQ
Riverina NSW 0 10 12 27 0 NR 3.12 2.68 5.03 NR NQ
Western NSW 0 4 0 NR 0 NR 2.28 NR NR NR NQ
TOTAL 210 314 246 435 88

Table 3: Number of barley-paddock inspections and barley yield estimates by region for 2016-2020. Source: GIAV

 

 

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