Quality key to late harvest

EXCEPTIONAL quality could help offset what has been a difficult season for Tasmanian cereal growers. The state’s cereal and seed harvest is now underway following a delayed start due to cool and wet conditions during spring.

Paul Willows from XLD Commodities said the harvest season was running about two to three weeks behind normal which had caused some supply issues.

“We had the combination of people running out of grain, with people expecting new crop to arrive and it hasn’t, so everyone has been scrambling to cover deliveries the last week or so,” he said.

“Then there were the mainland delivery logistical issues over the Christmas period.” Canola is the main crop being harvested so far. Mr Willows said they have received about 2500 tonnes of canola, 500 tonnes of wheat and 500 tonnes of barley Mr Willows said while the cool wet finish had slowed crop maturity, it had a significant upside particularly when it comes to canola. “One thing I would say from what we’ve received so far the quality of the grain is fantastic,” he said.

“The test weights are really, really good and the oil content has been where it should be which is in that 46-47 per cent. So, it’s a real bonus for us because the mainland has really struggled for quality, especially test weight.”

Mr Willows said the results were a credit to the Tasmanian growers who had persevered through a challenging season.

“The Tasmanian quality this year is going to be better than mainland,” he said. “Particularly on barley when they’re struggling to get a test weight of 62, we’re going to be 68 to 70s, which is fantastic.”

Mr Willows said the recent warm and dry weather had helped get the harvest into full swing. “We don’t want it too hot and dry too quickly because then we could get total fire bans, which forces the harvest to stop,” he said. Mr Willows said he anticipates the harvest season could stretch into April.

“I think we’re probably going to end up having two harvests,” he said. “We’ll have what could be called the winter crop in January and February, then I think we’ll have the spring crop which will be March to April harvest.”

However, Mr Willows said that could create challenges at the end of the season. “At the other end I think we’re going to be pushed to get it in before the daylight hours shrink,” he said.

With about 450,000 tonnes of grain consumed in Tasmania annually and current local production sitting at about 100,000 tonnes, Mr Willow said there was plenty of scope to increase the amount of local grown cereals.