SEASON SAVING: For Tyson Paech (pictured with his father Trevor), rainfall between 15 millimetres and 20mm on his family farms at Callington, Palmer and Mannum last week were the most important for the season.THE 2012 South Australian harvest has officially startedwith the first load received at Viterra’s Port Pirie storage and handling facility on Monday.
Gary Smith, who farms on 1420 hectares south of Port Pirie, delivered the load of Keel barley, which went Feed 2.
“I started reaping on Sunday, and got the first lot into Port Pirie on Monday morning,” he said.
“I would have started reaping on Friday, but I couldn’t with the rain.”
Mr Smith said the good falls around Port Pirie last week would have some benefit for his crops even though they were so early.
“The wheat still has a bit of green in it, so the rain will help it along,” he said.
He said yields were looking quite good, with early barley going 2.5 tonnes a hectare.
“The season is going really well,” Mr Smith said.
“It’s been helped along because I sowed really early in late April.”
Good falls across most of the State gave mixed results. While it will be a big change for some croppers, for others the rains came too late – after dry weather cut yield potential.
Most areas in SA received 10 millimetres to 25mm, but most of the Eyre Peninsula missed out on a good fall.
Grains analyst Malcolm Bartholomaeus said there was unlikely to be much upside to crop estimates from the recent rainfall.
“It really hasn’t added anything to the State’s crops, it’s just stopped the crops going backwards,” he said.
“The rainfall in October has still been below average for a lot of places.”
The good news for growers is that prices are strong.
“Grain prices are still pretty robust and year-on-year, are still $70-$80 a tonne higher,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.
On significant frost events across the country this season, he said it was extremely hard to gauge the impact at this stage.
“In some cases frost can actually be beneficial,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.
“If you lost half a head to frost – and it’s been dry – the remaining half can finish off and you can get good quality grain.”
Grain Producers SA chairman Garry Hansen said he had heard reports of significant frost damage in the Mallee, with some larger graingrowers having thousands of hectares affected.
“Certainly the reports are that the further east you go into the Mallee, the worse it is,” he said.
At his Coomandook farm, 200ha have been affected by frost and Mr Hansen, which would be cut for hay.
The hay season is already under way, and more frost-affected crops are likely to be cut for hay. Australian Fodder Industry Association executive officer Darren Keating said the market was fairly buoyant.
“Strong grain prices tend to drag hay prices up,” he said.
“With the strong grain prices this year we’re expecting to see hay follow along.”
*Full report in Stock Journal, October 18 issue, 2012.
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