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    Chris Trotter keeps an eye on the wheat harvest at Paul and Anthony Trotter's Riachella farm.

AgLife: Grain flows from productive region


Grain continues to pour into receival centres and bunkers across the region as farmers strip high-yielding broadacre Wimmera-Mallee crops.

While reports have confirmed significant yields across a large expanse of western Victoria, the harvest has so far produced broad diversity in quality, based on crop location and growing conditions.

Commercial grain company Shannon Brothers, which operates sites at Beulah and Horsham, is one operator that has reported a high yield with broad variations in quality across all grain commodities.

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Horsham site manager Mick Purchase, in summing up what had arrived from Wimmera and southern Mallee paddocks, described circumstances as ‘a bit better than average’.

“There’s plenty of yield and with varying quality but all-in-all it’s so far tracking as a fairly good year for everyone considering how good prices are,” he said.

“Much of the variability is the result of damage from a frost that spread across a broad area from Nhill to Horsham. Some areas were hit and others weren’t. It’s been a case of one side of a paddock might have been hit by the frost but the other side wasn’t – that’s how variable it is.

“Canola has obviously been a major winner this year with farmers receiving record prices at $900 a tonne, protein levels in wheat are good – similar to other years – and there’s plenty of malting barley coming in. 

“Lentils are also good, but like other commodities, have felt the impact of frost.”

Mr Purchase said many farmers were taking a measured approach in getting their best crops off first and later following up with the less productive harvests.

“Some farmers might have, for example, left their barley to get their lentils off to ensure they get the best financial returns possible – and then gone back to the barley later,” he said.

He said in some areas of the southern Mallee, which usually leads much of the region on a harvest time-frame, were running similar to much of the Wimmera.

“Some in the southern Mallee have a way to go with their wheat because of lead-up conditions and crop regrowth,” he said. 

Mr Purchase predicted many farmers across the bulk of the Wimmera would finish harvest by Christmas.

“We thought it was going to be a very long, drawn out harvest, but the onset of the warm weather with limited rain has sped the season up,” he said.

“It’s a nice change from what we were expecting.” 

The amount of grain collected at Viterra sites in western Victoria, such as Dooen, and South Australia is providing a snapshot of the size of this season’s grain harvest. Figures show growers delivered more than one and a half million tonnes of grain at Viterra’s western Victorian and South Australian sites between November 29 and December 5.

At the time it was the firm’s biggest week of receivals since the 2010-11 harvest and took total volumes to 4.27-million tonnes.

In the past few weeks, some sites have broken daily records with wheat, barley, canola, lentils and faba beans.

Viterra operations manager Neil Carr said grain deliveries were going well.

“Although yields and quality are down slightly in some areas due to previous weather conditions, growers are continuing to support our sites and are happy with the pricing,” he said.

Wheat, barley, canola and pulses make up the bulk of the Wimmera gains harvest. 

Climatic and geological circumstances across the vast cropping region vary significantly from district to district and sometimes farm to farm.

The Great Dividing Range is a primary demarcation line on north-south weather variability.

The entire December 22, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire December 22, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!