Riverina crops have taken a blow after more than 100mm of rain fell in parts

BETTER TIMES: Growers of winter crops in southern NSW had hoped for a drier finish to the season to allow for a lucrative harvest. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly
BETTER TIMES: Growers of winter crops in southern NSW had hoped for a drier finish to the season to allow for a lucrative harvest. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly

THE dumping of more than 100mm of rain throughout parts of the Riverina has attributed to a massive downgrade of winter crops. 

Different challenges have affected different farmers in different regions at different times of the year.

Luke Mathews

Riverina farmers and agronomists had warned that crops which were not harvested before the rain were at risk.

And before the rain arrived insurance assessors told The Rural that several crops had already been destroyed due to hail. Earlier last week there was a race to get crops in the chaser bin before the rain arrived. 

And new national figures reflect the pattern of events across southern NSW with the Australian Bureau of Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) showing that that winter crop tonnages will fall by 41 per cent. 

ABARES Crop Report estimates total winter crop production at 35.1 million tonnes, down 41 per cent from the record 59.5 million tonnes crop produced in 2016/17.

Wheat production is forecast at 20.3 million tonnes, down from 35.0 million tonnes in 2017/18, and the smallest national wheat crop since 2007/08.   

GrainGrowers trade and economics manager, Luke Mathews, said the 2017 winter cropping season had been challenging for many of Australia’s grain growers. 

“Different challenges have affected different farmers in different regions at different times of the year,” said Mr Mathews. “Severely low rainfall plagued much of the national cropping belt early in the season,” he said.

“The seasonal challenges have continued through harvest.  Widespread rainfall has been recorded in November and early December, slowing harvest progress and resulting in quality issues.” Meanwhile, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has flagged the issue about lack of storage for harvested crops.

The association has also warned that the heavy rain in southern NSW meant that growers would have to deal with storing grain with a high moisture content. 

Grain storage specialist for the southern cropping region, Peter Botta, said monitoring grain moisture and temperature daily would enable early detection of mould and insect development.

He said grain, with a high moisture content, of greater than 13 to 14 per cent was ideal for mould and insects.

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