Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Wet conditions delay rice harvest

Unseasonal April rains have delayed the start of rice harvesting for some growers across the district.

ZACH HUBBER April 25, 2014 3:10am

Rain damage: Rice farmer John Douglas hopes to harvest about 1000 tonnes. Photo: JAYME LOWNDES

Unseasonal April rains have delayed the start of rice harvesting for some growers across the district.

Caldwell rice farmer John Douglas will start harvesting his fields today as opposed to mid-April.

He said heavy falls of 50mm last month and 80mm earlier this month meant some of his Opus rice had struck and was no longer fit for milling.

‘‘I’ve never seen it this bad before,’’ he said.

‘‘We might have lost around eight per cent, but it could probably still be used for stock feed.’’

It is the first year Mr Douglas has grown Opus rice, a short grain used for sushi, while still growing the medium Reiziq grain.

‘‘Opus is taking off and the location and soil type out here suits it,’’ Mr Douglas said.

‘‘Sunrice has put a 20 per cent premium on it because obviously they don’t want to import it.

‘‘The neighbours have grown it in past years and said it was pretty good from all reports.’’

Mr Douglas was hopeful his 120 hectares of rice would produce about 1000 tonnes.

Meanwhile, Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia has asked farmers intending to burn stubble at the end of the season to do so responsibly.

RGA policy manager Andrew Bomm said it was important for growers to take all possible steps to minimise the effects of smoke on neighbouring properties and townships.

‘‘Growers should plan their burning strategy to avoid inappropriate conditions for burning,’’ Mr Bomm said.

‘‘This means avoiding burning wet stubble or burning when winds will blow smoke across roads or towards towns.’’

Though the bushfire danger period has passed, rice growers are still required to provide suitable firebreaks, notify neighbours, have firefighting equipment available on-site and have a responsible person attending while the fire is alight.

Zach Hubber

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