2017 rice harvest expected to be a big improvement

THE largest rice harvest in three years is about to get underway in the Riverina. 

With the 2017 harvest soon to start, SunRice was expecting more than 800,000 tonnes to come in from the region’s growers.

The company labelled it “a great outcome” given the challenging start to planting following an unusually wet winter and spring.

Grower Services and agronomic development general manager AGS, Tom Howard, was pleased with how the crop was looking. 

“(This) demonstrates rice’s flexibility and adaptability and the skill of growers to successfully establish a crop,” he said.

“It’s been especially pleasing to see how positively the new shorter season varieties have responded in this season’s conditions, in particular how their resilience is enabling growers to turn their late start or late water allocation into a planting opportunity.

“Growers are also seeing the potential for rice to play a bigger role in their irrigation program and help to diversify their risk profile.”

These numbers compare to 245,000 tonnes of rice harvested last year and 690,215 in 2015. 

Leeton shire grower Garry Knagge has planted 110 hectares of rice. He too was feeling positive of harvest, which he expected to start within the next fortnight. 

“It’s looking pretty good, but as they say ‘it ain’t over until the fat lady sings’ … hopefully the weather will be on our side during harvest,” Mr Knagge said. “We don’t want any rain during harvest, so hopefully we’ll be alright.”

Mr Knagge said so far weather conditions had been fairly stable for growing rice. “At the start of the season it was still fairly cold, but we had a pretty good summer,” he said. “Growers will be looking for it to stay about the same as it has been now (going into harvest).”

The increase in tonnage this year has been attributed to better water allocations, as well as more growers returning to planting rice. “There’s been a couple that couldn’t get their cotton in with the wet weather we had, so they’ve planted rice,” Mr Knagge said.