WITH our region’s grain harvest more than halfway through, many growers are reporting that this year’s crop has proven to be an improvement on last year, particularly in the Millewa.
Trentham Cliffs grain grower and Mallee Sustainable Farming’s executive chairman, Daniel Linklater said that despite the measureable improvement it had still been an “up and down season”.
“We enjoyed terrific opening rainfall in April, followed by drought conditions through May June and July. It finally rained again in August and then we had very favourable spring conditions for crops to finish off,” Mr Linklater said.
“Yields really reflected the condition of the crops at end of July, prior to the August rainfall.
“Those that were down and almost out, never fully recovered, while those that were relatively healthy and vigorous, took off like a rocket and finished well.”
Mr Linklater said that resulted in some cereal paddocks averaging around the three tonne per hectare.
“That is very good for the season, while other paddocks averaged around one tonne per hectare, and everything in between,” he said.
“I think most people in the district are pleased, it’s certainly a big improvement compared to the recent years of hard slog through relentless drought conditions.
“Overall it’s been a very pleasing outcome and everybody has good levels of ground cover, which will reduce soil erosion over the summer and go a long way to reducing the catastrophic dust storms that people were so familiar with last summer. More importantly, the psychological impact and the mental health of growers is much healthier this year, with them actually being able to produce a crop and not having to look at dust blown paddocks like they did last season in the midst of a prolonged drought − that’s a fantastic shift from last year.”
Mr Linklater said that the rain received during harvest was starting to build a profile of moisture for next season. “I think everyone has their fingers crossed for the forecast La Niña over summer to set our dry land crops up well for next year.”
Mr Linklater added that China’s tariffs on Australian barley and India’s on our lentils have impacted the industry.
“The barley prices haven’t fallen off a cliff. The prices are however definitely depressed based on a couple of factors, one being the huge production on the east coast of Australia and the second being the impact of the Chinese tariffs on the barley price,” he said.
“It’s worth noting that India still has a 44 per cent tariff on tabbouleh chickpeas which is what we grow in this area and so our chickpea prices are very depressed.”