Winter cropping season ‘won’t be a disaster’ but still too uncertain to call

Rohan Brill
Rohan Brill

BETTING on the outcome of the cropping season in southern NSW might be just as risky as backing racehorses in the Melbourne Cup. 

The season started out well. Then a run a of frosts threatened to ruin it all. After that relentless dry conditions set in and in the past week bucketing rain pummeled the Riverina. 

This string of seasonal upsets has left farmers and agronomists confused about the overall outcome of the winter cropping season. Initially it was considered yields would be high. But the tough winter conditions left people preparing for the worst. 

With windrowing of canola crops throughout the Riverina underway agronomists are saying the outcomes will be better than estimated a few weeks ago. NSW Department of Primary Industries agronomist at Wagga Rohan Brill said canola was hanging on better than expected. 

He said the rain, had in fact, helped some crops. And although windrowing activity heightened this week he hadn’t seen anyone harvesting canola yet. That was tipped to occur in the next week or so. 

“The crops that have been cut are taking a long time to dry,” he said. “Around Ganmain some of the crops were taking more than a fortnight  to dry out,” he said. Meanwhile, harvest of barley had started to the north of the region and early indications for yields were better than expected. “The harvest is not going going to be a good one but it is not necessarily going to be a disaster either,” he said. 

It was anticipated that barley crops around Marrar, Ganmain and Lockhart would possibly be ready for harvest first. And with weather still the major factor in regards to timing Mr Brill estimated that the harvest of wheat would begin late this month. “It has been an interesting season … it looked good in June, and then it was ordinary again in the middle of September,” he said. 

“There hasn’t been an opportunity to achieve yield potential,” he said. 

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