‘Auger­ing’ well

AgLife - - Front Page - Pic­ture: PAUL CAR­RACHER

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.

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