GrainRite’s Marie Jaeschke is enjoying the flow-on effects of a good season for the region’s farmers. The Jaeschkes, of Tarranyurk, manufacture and sell self-propelled augers throughout Victoria, South Australia and NSW. “We’ve had a lot more sales, with crops generally good throughout the region,” Mrs Jaeschke said. She said the confidence in the Wimmera-Mallee farming community was pleasing following a couple of tough seasons. My Patch columnist Mick Phelan provides a harvest update in the lead-up to Christmas,
In the last week before Christmas, harvest is well and truly in full swing and some growers are even pushing hard to have the header back in the shed before Christmas day.
The end is not yet in sight, however, for those in southern areas of western Victoria as most in these regions are still in the process of completing their canola harvest and are only now getting onto cereal and pulse crops.
This is in stark contrast to recent seasons where anywhere from Ouyen to Lake Bolac, crops have seemingly been ready to strip in unison from early November onwards. This season has returned to somewhat of a traditional north to south progression when it comes to harvest, which contractors will surely be exulting over.
Yields being reported have generally been excellent, with canola averages ranging from 2.2mt-ha to a whopping 3.3mt-ha in southern regions. Oil content has also been high with oil percentages coming in at anywhere from 44 to 49 percent – anything over 42 percent receives bonuses per percentage point – which is giving growers a handy oil bonus on top of a base canola price which has so far resisted any major price drops from the pressure of harvest cash sales.
Yields on cereals have ranged from 4-5mt-ha in northern areas and those in the south are expecting winter wheats to yield up to 6-7mt-ha.
The yields being reported are a welcome relief after fears of more extensive losses due to waterlogging throughout the winter and spring months. This being said, some areas in western Victoria have suffered heavily from waterlogging, which has taken the cream off the cake of what has otherwise been a fantastic season.
A current headache faced by growers is that although crops themselves might be ready to harvest on the surface, there is still an abundance of green material below the canopy as well as wheel tracks due to the good season and availability of moisture. This combined with a relatively mild summer to date has restricted growers from working too late into the evening because moisture levels can rise quickly. Continuing to work under these conditions can be very hard on machinery, forcing them to pull up.
Even in windrowed crops, which are essentially designed to kill the crop and bring it to maturity all at the same time, green material beneath the windrow itself has still been an issue.
Adding to this, because many crops became lodged during the year, it has forced the creation of the infamous ‘dead cow’.
Dead cows, a collection of intertwined material within the windrow, requires a delicate hand and inevitably creates blockages and constantly brings any forward progression to a halt. If you are lucky enough to sit next to an operator after dealing with a few dead cows, you are sure to learn a few new words that will make your vocabulary just a little bit more colourful.
All in all, grain farmers will always find a way to get the job done and here’s hoping the weather is accommodating and growers are not restricted to bank hours for the remainder of harvest.
If all goes well and they can finish harvest quickly, a well-earned break with their northern counterparts will no doubt be on the cards.