All set for a super season

Preparations are under way for this season’s pyrethrum harvest which will be the biggest in six years.

Botanical Resources Australia will harvest just under 2000ha this season with 1580ha in Tasmania and a further 400ha on Victoria.

BRA pyrethrum production manager Mark Raspin said like many crops, pyrethrum had also been impacted by the extremely wet conditions this season.

He said while the crop was running about a week later than normal it had bounced back surprisingly well after the recent warm and sunny conditions.

“Planting has probably been one of our biggest challenges, we’re planting a lot later in some areas than we traditionally do because of the wet conditions,” he said.

Mr Raspin said most of the company’s pyrethrum growing regions have received record rainfall in spring which has been disruptive to plantings program.

Generally, pyrethrum crops are planted in August and September but this season crops were still being planted in November.

BRA has been able to sow 80 per cent of the contracted planting area but 200ha had to be replanted due to storm damage.

Getting on paddock to apply crop treatments had also been challenging.

Mr Raspin said the continued wet weather and high rainfall levels had created higher than average disease pressure in the flowering crops this season.

He said BRA crops had also experienced some impact to yield in low-lying areas where water had pooled for long periods because pyrethrum hates wet feet.

Mr Raspin said while the weather had been disappointing and restrictive, the company had fared better than many agricultural businesses and producers in Victoria and NSW.

BRA is currently undergoing an expansion in its crop area to cater for increased product demand for pyrethrins, the natural insecticide extracted from pyrethrum flowers.

The pyrethrin concentrate is exported around the world for use in products for human health and crop protection.

Mr Raspin said many of the crops were now coming into full bloom.

“It’s a nice time of the year because the crops are coming into flower so it’s rewarding for our agronomists and the growers to finally see how they’re going, because there’s a lot of work that goes into getting them to this point,” he said.

Harvesting of pyrethrum will get started in early January.

Mr Raspin said BRA was hoping for fine and dry weather for the next couple of months.

“With the aim of maximising our yields this season, the company has engaged additional combine harvesters into the fleet to get the crop off in a much shorter timeframe,” Mr Raspin said.

He said in the longer term the business would be aiming for increased crop retention for a second harvest and a much larger planting season in 2023.

BRA is currently working with the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association’s pyrethrum growers’ group on post-harvest contracts and planting contracts for 2023.

Mr Raspin said discussions were progressing well and it was hoped the process would be finalised soon.