Mixed bag for Tassie harvest

TASMANIA’S seed harvesting season is in full swing and growers are reporting mixed results with yields this year. It is peak harvest time for the state’s cereal, grass seed, clover and vegetable seeds and after an extremely wet spring, crops this season are producing varied yields.

Konrad Chung from Midlands Seeds said the wet conditions had impacted some crops more than others.

“We’ve had some good results and we’ve had some very ordinary results as well considering how wet and waterlogged the season has been,” he said. “Obviously yields are overall going to be down. Some canola has done really well, with 1.7-1.8 tonnes a hectare off the paddock, but then other crops have been a tonne to the hectare. It’s a very mixed bag.”

Mr Chung said the company’s pea crops were almost ready for harvesting. “They’re just starting to dry off, so we’ll look at harvesting those in the next week or two,” he said.

Harvest of the company’s linseed crops, which are just starting to dry off, is also yet to get under way. Figures from the Bureau of Meteorology show rainfall across Tasmania during January was 47 per cent below the long-term average, however there have still been some interruptions to harvesting. Chairman of the Tasmanian Seed Industry Group Rob Dent runs Ardent Seeds.

“Generally everything is about two to three weeks late, mainly due to the cold in the spring time,” he said.

“We have had some issues with small showers just stopping heading and that sort of thing, so everyone’s still heading grass seed, which is a bit late. Normally most of it would be off by now but there’s still some heading going on. It’s a long time since we’ve headed into February.”

Mr Chung said the slower sowing season had also flowed through into harvest. “We haven’t had major hiccups because we had delayed sowing,” he said. “So, we haven’t been affected by this bit of unstable weather we’ve had lately so everything is going to plan. I think it’s going to be a long and dragged-out harvest season though.”

Mr Chung said their grass seed harvest went smoothly. “We’ve had 2.5 tonnes a hectare for an Italian which is reasonably good and some of our perennials were reasonably good,” he said. “We’re still yet to do out canola harvesting, but some of them look quite promising.”

Mr Chung said some wheat crops had also done well with one harvested recently yielding 12 tonnes to the hectare. He said most of their crops would be harvested by the end of February this season.

Mr Dent said they had also seen mixed yields this season.

“We’re probably just slightly down, because it was so wet in the spring time we had trouble getting things like modus on at the right time and even getting nitrogen on,” he said. “It’s not bad but it’s just that little bit down.”

Because of the drawn out harvest, Mr Chung said there also have not been too many issues with access to seed cleaning facilities. “At the moment I think the capacity is there,” he said. “Because it’s been a long-protracted harvest, the sheds aren’t being overloaded.”

When it comes to the seed market, Mr Chung said there would be strong demand for canola seed this year and there will be a shortage of seed due to lower than expected yields and area. “We’re lucky enough to have seed on hand, because we brought in extra last season, so we’ll be able to plant earlier this year rather than having to wait for the seed to go through Customs,” he said.

Mr Dent said the market for pasture seed is just starting to move, but it had been a slow start so far.