Harvest is coming
By James Urquhart
It’s been a couple of months of proper winter with cold, wet and windy weather and hasn’t it been delightful. After so many recent failed winters it is a joy to return to a more traditional winter weather pattern. For those impacted by Covid related social restrictions, the miserable weather (and a well-timed Olympic Games) has perhaps made lockdowns slightly easier to endure, but for farmers the return to a more traditional winter has been welcomed with open arms. Broadacre crops are doing well for it, albeit enjoying the recent run of dry days - and like me, looking forward to the days getting longer and warmer.
With the arrival of August comes a realisation that harvest is only just around the corner, racing towards us at a rapid rate of knots. The New South Wales, and national harvest for that matter, is being widely anticipated as a big one, and the industry is busily readying the supply chain to handle the second ‘big one’ in a row.
The annual harvest recruitment drive has begun in earnest as the industry looks to secure its chaser bin drivers, grain samplers, weighbridge operators and train drivers for the peak season. Given the size of the crop and faced with stiff competition from the mining industry and a lack of backpackers in the country thanks to ongoing travel restrictions, this year’s recruitment effort will be as big as any in recent history. With a wide range of skilled and unskilled roles on offer there are opportunities galore for anyone willing to get out and have a go.
You don’t have to drive too far around NSW for it to become evident that there is still a lot of grain on hand and despite the record pace at which it is leaving the country, it is unavoidable that New South Wales will carry a significant amount of grain into harvest. It is with this in mind that bulk handlers large and small are making preparations, including site expansions and repositioning of grain and grain-handling equipment to maximise harvest capacities and efficiencies.
Growers are also turning their attention to harvest logistics. Like bulk handlers, they are actively moving old season grain off site to make room for the new. Decisions are being made about how to store and market the crop and whilst anecdotally some growers are reluctant to risk another year of the mice, quality and logistics issues that have arisen out of temporary on-farm storage options, a big harvest will no doubt necessitate the use of such tools. Prices remain at good levels, canola in particular continues to impress and there has been a steady stream of new crop sales as confidence quietly builds in production expectations. Should these kinds of prices prevail through harvest it would be unlikely to see growers bury grain as they have in previous big, but low priced, harvests.
With above average rainfall, winter is forecasted to continue in the same fashion as it started. With that trend likely to extend into spring, we have a lot to be excited about – and prepare for. Harvest is coming.
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