‘Diversity’ is crucial
‘Diversity’ has emerged as a Wimmera-mallee post-harvest catch-cry as farmers across the region assess one of the busiest and most variable seasons in years.
Victorian Farmers Federation president and Wimmera grain-grower David Jochinke, reflecting on an ‘exhausting’ year, said a need for growers to pursue ‘farm-management diversity’ had been the profound lesson to emerge from the summer harvest.
He said vast variability in cropping results emphasised a need for farmers to consider diversifying in everything from crop variety to sowing, fertilising and spraying times to mitigate potential risks.
“Overall we’ve experienced an above-average year and we’ve seen good volumes in a lot of crops,” he said.
“At the same time, the quality has been a lot more all over the shop than we were expecting. Circumstances have really highlighted the need for diversity.
“Diversity and good management has rewarded a lot of people and reflected the reputation Wimmera farmers have as being among the best in the world.
“We have to be at the forefront of the industry globally. Dealing with environmental, commodity and international fluctuations force us to be good managers.”
Mr Jochinke said legumes and oilseeds had generally been really good cash crops, with lentils and chickpeas leading the charge, although prices for beans and field peas had not been quite as strong as previous years.
“I have to say the cereal quality after frost damage has been quite devastating for some people,” he said.
“In some cases environmental conditions did a lot more damage than we first thought.
“We’ve seen a lot of feed-grade wheat and barley and we weren’t expecting that over such a large area. At the end of the day, the Wimmera is also feeling the effects of a large global glut of feed grain.”
But Mr Jochinke said the season had provided many growers with a reprieve after two disastrous seasons and the hope now was for a consolidating 2017-18.
“There will be a lot of farmers mindful of the previous two seasons and keen to get their books back in balance,” he said.
“In many cases this season has given farmers a chance to catch their breath.
“Everyone in Victoria’s cropping area is exhausted – not only farmers, but everyone working in the grain industry.
“The result is that many small communities will benefit from the year and hopefully that will provide the whole region with an upbeat vibe.”
Mr Jochinke said the grain harvest was all but finished in the Mallee and some northern Wimmera farmers had yet to strip odd paddocks involving lower-value crops.
He said southern Wimmera growers were close to finishing or had more to do depending on when they sowed their crops and grain farmers south of the Great Divide were now full-swing into harvest.
“I suspect by the time we hit February everyone should have pretty much tidied up what they’re doing,” he said.
“It’s been a tough, long season.” SCHUBERTS PEST SERVICES Ph: 5382 7484