Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Grain harvest underway

Grain growers are working long days and nights to bring in the harvest in Northern Victoria and the Southern Riverina.

LAURA GRIFFIN December 11, 2012 4:04am

Jono Holmes, 21, South Stanhope harvesting at Byrneside


Grain growers and contractors are busy bringing in the Victorian wheat harvest and have some long days and nights ahead.

Contractor Jono Holmes, 21, began harvesting wheat around Tatura and Byrneside last week.

He spent the first day harvesting the poorer quality wheat that had ripened more quickly.

The wheat in other paddocks looks good and Mr Holmes said he was hoping to get good tonnage from it.

This is Mr Holmes’ seventh harvest, and he said compared with previous years the canola took longer to harvest and the wheat was running on schedule.

‘‘We’ll be flat out until Christmas,’’ he said.

The contractor finished harvesting canola before starting on the wheat and said he was happy with the oilseed’s yield.

‘‘Its moisture levels stayed at about 60 per cent and oil content was also pretty good.’’

He said the canola and wheat had so far been clear of pests and diseases.

SQP Grain grain merchant Brad Cullen said the Mallee’s wheat harvest began three or four weeks ago and the harvest at Elmore and in the Goulburn Valley was also under way.

He said people in the Mallee were reporting the harvest was one or two weeks ahead of previous years.

‘‘Their yields have been down a bit from expectations before the harvest started,’’ Mr Cullen said.

‘‘It’s a bit disappointing.’’

The grain merchant is based at Moama and trades in the Mallee and central and north-east Victoria.

‘‘In this neck of the woods — around Moama — it will probably be a pretty good harvest,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s about on par with last year.’’

He said the state’s western district was yet to harvest wheat and growers there would probably be going well into January.

He said the primary factor impacting the different regions’ harvests was growing-season rainfall.

Victorian grain growers will benefit from grain prices that are up from last year.

‘‘There is a global shortage, however the market expects global stocks to improve mid next year when the Northern Hemisphere crop is brought in. This could see prices drop,’’ Mr Cullen said.

He said prices were historically good, so people were selling instead of storing their grain.

Another trend Mr Cullen has noticed is that there is more canola than in previous years, which was generally planted at the expense of wheat.

‘‘Canola pricing is very strong as well, mostly because of the high demand from Europe.’’

Kelly Grain grain merchant Matt Kelly said the business had received about 50 per cent of the wheat harvest. The company’s Tocumwal site had received 100000 tonnes of wheat early last week. Mr Kelly expects the remaining 50 per cent to come in during the next two weeks.

He said it would be about 10 days later than last year as there had been more irrigated crops planted because water was available.

Mr Kelly said the yield had been mixed.

‘‘Growers on dryland are getting between 2.5tonnes to 4.5tonnes of wheat per hectare, although there are some lower-yielding crops.

‘‘On irrigated land, they are hoping for between six and 8tonnes/ha, but not enough of that is in yet.’’

He said this harvest seemed to be on par with last year’s harvest.

Mr Kelly said price increases to between $80 and $100/tonne would make up for any lukewarm yields.

He said there had been a little high-screening wheat, but not a problematic amount.

Mr Kelly also noticed that more canola had been planted at the expense of wheat and barley.

‘‘It is the smallest barley crop around here in history,’’ he said.

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