Harvest well ahead of previous years
By Matt Wallis
8th November, 2023
As we move further into November, harvest progresses at an incredibly rapid pace. Traditionally harvest would be 10% completed in the northern part of the Port Kembla zone by the end of the first week of November. Anecdotal feedback today suggests the port zone is closer to 25-30% completed. North of the Temora region, canola and barley harvest is only expected to be wagging its tail in 7 days' time. With limited to no rain of significance throughout September and October coupled with some consecutive unseasonably hot periods, then throwing a few frost events into the mix, it seems we can be sure to lock in a Christmas holiday this year.
Given the season, paying particular homage to the dry finish, the canola quality for the most part has been relatively good considering the season with oils averaging 42-43% and test weights in the mid 60’s. Unfortunately, most the feedback received from growers is very clear, the yield just hasn’t been there. The vast majority of growers are suggesting yields are 10-30% lower on where they expected production to be leading into harvest. It is worth noting that areas less advanced that would have still benefitted from the early October rain event are only just commencing harvest.
To put the harvest timing into perspective, in the 22/23 season West Wyalong GrainFlow received its first load of canola on the 9th of November, this year it was the 11th of October.
To date, the barley has been harvesting as expected with a nice surprise in the higher percentage of malt barley produced. Although premiums have come back $5-$10 from the highs, still representing a nice little surprise for those fortunate enough to harvest malt. Plenty of anecdotal feedback regarding higher screenings and lighter test weights however over all this doesn’t seem representative of a large portion of the crop today.
Wheat quality seems to have caught most by surprise as leading into harvest most growers and agronomists alike were expecting APW or H2 to be the main flavour within the Port Kembla port zone. Only early days however the quality seems to be trending towards an ASW1 dominant season with around 10% protein. H2 and APH2 grades are still being received however today most certainly not the busiest lines at the bulk handler sites. Again, still early days for wheat harvest and as such, difficult to throw much weight behind the early data available.
In regard to the harvest progress overall it seems that farmers are taking no chances and making the most of the favourable conditions at hand, progressing at an extremely fast pace just in case mother nature changes her mood and sends us all on a trip down memory lane.
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