Pyrethrum demand grows

TASMANIA is harvesting its biggest crop of pyrethrum in four years.

Despite a wetter-than-ideal past few months affecting weights, assay levels are great.

Botanical Resources Australia is well into the pyrethrum harvest season in Tasmania and Western Victoria, with about 70 per cent of the 1800 hectares of crop harvested to date.

“We have plenty of harvesting capacity and when the weather is suitable, we can get the crop into the shed for processing,” BRA pyrethrum production manager Mark Raspin said.
“In the past week the good weather conditions have enabled BRA to maximise their intake.
“After a challenging growing season, a wet autumn and spring with high disease pressure, we picked up some yield potential through a dry flowering period in December.
“Mild temperatures and low rainfall during December resulted in high accumulations of pyrethrins during the flowering period.”

The rains that swept across the state in January caused concern for BRA and their growing partners, with around half of their crops windrowed, though preliminary assay results from the early harvests suggest the crops are of an extremely high quality.

“Such events cause concern as there are a lot of unknowns to the outcome and impact on yield, results and financial return to growers,” Mr Raspin said. “Preliminary weights suggested that tonnes are down from previous years on the early harvested sites, though BRA is pleased that preliminary results delivered from our lab indicate that assays in Tasmania are much higher than average, compensating for the lower weights.”
“Pyrethrins have low water solubility, so they do not leach or break down when wet.”
“The rains have washed wax and resins from the crop and the subsequent warm, dry weather has created excellent harvesting opportunities over the past week since the crop has dried.”

Mr Raspin stressed the importance of retaining crops for a second harvest, to meet demands for 2023, with BRA increasing contract rates for all post-harvest sites retained at the end of this season.

“Sales forecasts for the next few years are high and we aim to plant an increased area in the upcoming spring.”
“We recognise that this is ambitious given the high competition from cropping and livestock options currently available for farmers.
“However we believe strongly that pyrethrum is an attractive option for farmers as it is a high return crop requiring low nutrition and irrigation demand.”

BRA hope to release the first batch of preliminary results to growers by the end of this week.

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