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    ALL SYSTEMS GO: Nathan Dart is pictured loading lentils bound for Rupanyup at his Lah East farm. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

AgLife: Wimmera farmers bucking a nation-wide trend


A Wimmera-based contract harvester has revealed the extent of dramatically different circumstances and cropping results for dryland broadacre farmers in Victoria and New South Wales.

Chris Bartlett, who operates Bartlett Brothers Harvesting with his brother Dale, said some of the Wimmera crops he had worked on this summer were among the best he had seen in five years.

But he said that was in stark contrast to a lack of harvesting opportunities in drought-ravaged areas of far northern Victoria and NSW.

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“We work right up to the Queensland border and last season didn’t take a machine. Not going to NSW left a massive hole in our run,” he said.

“But in the Wimmera it seems to have been a really good season for just about everyone.

“Hopetoun in the southern Mallee had good-yielding barley, wheat and lentils crops – probably the best season I’ve seen up in Hopetoun area. And you talk to blokes up there and the general feeling is that it’s been a very solid season with good yields and good prices.

“We were also over at Minimay in the west where there were good yields in beans and wheat and good straw quality as well.

“From our experience, areas around Horsham were very solid as well and where we’ve worked we’ve seen examples where crops have gone a lot better than many expected. 

“In some cases, where the expectation was for yields of four tonne a hectare, it’s gone five, and the majority of barley seems to have gone malting quality. And everyone has seed.”

The Bartletts, a farming family based at Pimpinio, were running six headers in the Wimmera and had little chance or opportunity to leave Victoria.

Mr Bartlett said many areas in the Wimmera-Mallee appeared to have dodged a bullet with frost and a general lack of rain. “We, like the rest of our contract clients, enjoyed a very solid and profitable season,” he said.

“In fact, from our perspective, it appears to have been a solid year everywhere across the Wimmera in a region stretching from the south and south-west and Horsham and Natimuk districts to Hopetoun. 

“You just have to look at the amount of grain that’s gone to Dimboola, for example. You only need to take note of the size of the bunkers.”


Nathan Dart, centre, loading lentils at his Lah East farm with workers Pat Guay and Ben Middleton.
Nathan Dart, centre, loading lentils at his Lah East farm with workers Pat Guay and Ben Middleton.

Nathan Dart, who farms at Lah East north of Warracknabeal, echoed comments from growers across the region in reporting good results.

Busy last week moving lentils and straw after a busy harvest, he summed up his circumstances with a typical Wimmera-farmer understatement: “It’s pretty good, can’t complain,” he said. 

Mr Bartlett said southern Wimmera and Western District crops had also been highly productive.

“We’ve been harvesting spring barley and peas and safflower in the Skipton-Lismore area with some places having returns of seven to eight tonne per hectares,” he said. 

The entire January 29, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire January 29,, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!