Elders Agronomist Pat Conlan shares his insights into the approaching harvest likely to start in the coming weeks.
24 October 2023, AU: Harvest is quickly approaching with headers starting in Mildura this week, while growers around the Swan Hill area likely to start in late October to early November.
The odd paddock of early sown lentils, barley and canola have been desiccated, and with the warmer weather over the weekend, crops will start to mature quite quickly.
The widespread rain was welcomed in early October, with falls of 25 to 70mm across the region. Following weeks of warm weather in late September, crops were really starting to feel the pinch on heavier soil types, and sub-soil moisture was rapidly depleted. The rain will be of great benefit to wheat and lentils especially, while barley for the most part is already home. Due to the full sub-soil moisture profile at the start of the season and solid rainfall events at critical times, the expected yields for most should be above average, provided there is a soft, cool finish.
Disease levels have been far less than what we experienced last year with the hot dry weather in September not being conducive to disease.
Growers will benefit from strong grain prices, which hopefully hold throughout the harvest period.
Hay season is coming to a close, with most crops cut, baled, and stacked. Quality should be very good for any hay that was baled prior to the rain. Prices for high quality oaten and vetch hay are high, as there is a strong demand coming from both export and domestic markets. Some growers are looking to set up paddocks for next season and decided to terminate their vetch for brown manure.
Rice season has arrived with sowing commencing over the last fortnight. Some growers started drill sowing in late September to early October, and their crops have germinated on the back of the rain. Aerial sown rice is slowly starting to ramp up this week. Growers have been busy with their paddock preparation cultivating and grading paddocks, lifting banks, installing outlets, pre-drilling fertiliser and chasing water. The area forecast to be planted to rice has dropped back by an estimated 50 per cent due to uncertainty around grain prices and historically high water prices prior to seed order cut-off date.
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