Bringing in the grain

Jack Brumby, Will Overs holding son Xave, 1, and Ken Overs in a paddock of Longsword wheat. Photos: Kim Woods.

Despite a dry finish and a weather affected start to harvest, regional growers are delivering a cereal crop with yields and quality beyond their expectations.

Windy conditions and rain has meant the harvest has been a stop-start affair in the Narrandera shire.

But, if the weather remains fine from here in, growers expect to be finished by the first week of December.

GrainCorp’s Barellan receival site may not be the biggest in the region but is certainly the busiest with over 20,000 tonnes delivered by late last week.

Forecasted receivals have lifted from 30,000-40,000 tonnes to well over 50,000 on higher than expected yields despite the dry finish.

The site opened on October 21 for the first deliveries of canola and has since taken 6500 tonnes of the oilseed.

GrainCorp Barellan area manager Brad Muller said total tonnages this year would be up on last year’s 40,000 tonnes.

“We had a couple of growers deliver grain this year when last year they didn’t – compared to the amount of rain received, everyone is reasonably happy,” Mr Muller said. “The flow-on effects are great for the area, especially for a small town like Barellan.”

Mr Muller said the oil content of canola had been good for a dry year and yields better than expected.

“The lowest oil content we have seen is 38 per cent up to 44 per cent – with the dry finish we thought it would be a bit lower,” Mr Muller said. “There was a lot of canola cut for hay in October so we had to round down the forecast on tonnages.

“Barley started late October and has been better than expected with low screenings. There are still a few with high screenings up to 55 per cent but the majority are under 15 per cent.

“We haven’t seen any malt barley as yet and so far it has been BAR1 (Feed Barley 1) and BAR2 (Feed Barley 2).”

Mr Muller said more than 30,000 tonnes of wheat and 5500 tonnes of barley have been taken so far since the first deliveries in late October. He is expecting another 20,000 tonnes to be delivered.

“Grain weight dropped slightly after the last rain, and there is little low protein wheat around this year with the dry finish and protein up to 17 per cent.

“Just about everyone has managed to get their screenings under 10 per cent making AH2, and it was only a few growers who have struggled with that.”

Mr Muller said the harvest had generated 10 additional jobs at the site, compared to a normal year of up to 50. The site caters for Australian Premium White, Australian Hard 2, Australian Prime Hard 2, Australian Prime Hard 1, Australian Hard 13 per cent, Feed Barley 1, Feed Barley 2, and non-GM canola.

It has been a stop-start harvest so far for the Overs family at Barellan with around 25 per cent of the crop harvested.

Will Overs said the barley failed to live up to expectations, with yields ranging from a low of 200kg/ha to 2.3 tonnes/ha.

“On the paddocks we conserved moisture on fallow were going quite well but the paddocks that weren’t on deep moisture did not,” he said. “My mistake was pushing them too hard with nitrogen and they fell over in the tight spring. Overall we will average a tonne/ha – protein was through the roof at 14-16 per cent so there won’t be much malting barley coming out of this area.”

The family is electing to store their barley on-farm. They are yet to harvest the dessicated canola but expect the oil content to be low.

“We are hoping to average 0.7t/ha on our fallow in the canola,” Will said.

Among the first wheat crops to come off for the Overs was Longsword at 1.5-1.8 tonnes/ha.

Will said the change in tillage practices and moisture retention appeared to be paying off in a drought.

“The return appears to be there but everyone will have a different view on that,” he said.

Barellan grower Mark Kenny, Oakdene, said wheat yields averaged 1t/ha and barley 2t/ha.

“The protein on the barley was about 13 per cent, good screenings at one per cent, and not far off malt so I have stored it thinking it may malt later,” he said. “Prices have come off for barley – it was over $300/tonne on-farm early but it is back to $280/tonne.

“Protein has been 13 per cent on the wheat, grain weight good, very little screenings – the quality of the wheat is excellent.”

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