“Tough” harvest season wraps up
Local farmers have described the 2022/23 harvest as “long and drawn out” as the tough season wraps up for another year.
Extensive flooding and wet weather brought on by the third consecutive La Niña system in spring impacted much of cropping season with variability right across the board.
North of the Federation Council region fared the worst with overland flooding causing headaches for farmers trying to get onto their paddocks to get crop off.
In Oaklands, James Nixon who runs a family mixed cropping operation comprising of wheat, barley, canola, maize and rice, said the season had been quite disappointing.
In Rennie, Craig and Fiona Marshall fared somewhat better describing the season as a “real mixed bag”.
“Results really depended on where you were regarding topography. For those who were in areas where water drained well or moved along, there were high yields and high quality,” Fiona said.
“However, for those where water sat around, and is still sitting around, it's been really difficult. Some farmers still can't get crops off.
“There's so much variability this year which makes it tough when you look over your neighbours fence and see they might have had the opposite results of what you achieved.
“Livestock has suffered as well with the prolonged wet weather. Some farmers have struggled to find feed.
“All in all, it's been a very complicated and long harvest. Farmers are really feeling it this year. It's the second year where harvest has finished quite late. Many haven't had holidays for a couple of years as a result.”
Tungamah farmer Josh Buerckner said it was certainly another long and challenging harvest again this season, however results were generally at or above expectations around the Yarrawonga/ Tungamah area.
“Other than a few isolated paddocks where extended periods of waterlogging had a very negative effect on yield, most farmers were surprised with how good the results were in terms of yield and grain quality,” Mr Buerckner said.
“Our total rainfall was 855mm for the year which is around 170% of the annual average.
Given this and the amount of water that inundated some paddocks it was amazing that we were able to harvest as much area as we did.
“Cereal yields, where fungicide programs were able to be implemented were generally five tonne per hectare or more, while Canola yields were around two tonne per hectare or better.
“With grain prices historically high most farm businesses locally should turn a profit which won't be a bad result considering prices of inputs were up around 30% year on year in 2022.”
Despite the impact of the devastating floods in the local area and in the eastern states, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) have forecasted winter crop production in Australia still reach a total 62 million tonnes, the second highest on record. Crop prospects in the eastern states remain high overall including forecasts of record production in Victoria, but widespread losses are estimated in regions affected by untimely record spring rainfall.
Seasonal conditions over spring have resulted in mixed prospects for winter crop production around the country.
GrainCorp's final harvest update for the 22/23 season revealed New South had received a total of 4,920,690 tonnes of grain while Victoria reached 3,898,640 tonnes.
Wheat production is forecast to reach a new record of 36.6 million tonnes, a 1 per cent increase over the previous record set last year. Barley production is forecast to reach 13.4 million tonnes, the fourth largest on record. Canola production is forecast to also reach a new record at 7.3 million tonnes, a 4 per cent improvement over the previous record set last year.
Last year Victoria experienced its wettest August since 2010, and September rainfall was above average across most of northern Victoria. October 2022 is now confirmed as the wettest of any month in the recorded history of the Murray-Darling Basin. A rare third successive year of La Nina, in combination with a strong negative Indian Ocean Dipole, saw an overall increase in wet weather conditions accentuated in the final quarter of 2022. Currently, the consensus across climate forecasting models is for a dissipating La Nina and a return to a neutral season between El Nina and La Nina in 2023.