Relief over poppy harvest

TASMANIA’S poppy harvest is in full swing and some promising early crops results have come as a relief to growers.

It has been one of the most challenging poppy seasons ever after extremely wet spring conditions caused major crop losses across the state. Now, however, warm and dry conditions are proving ideal for harvesting and many farmers are happy to see this year’s crop going out the gate.

Extractas Bioscience field operations manager Noel Beven said after a difficult season the recent settled weather was a welcome change.

“Generally speaking has been good harvest weather although mixed in with heavy dews and not necessarily early starts,” he said. “Having said all that, we’ve had some good harvest days and some very pleasing crop tonnages.”

Mr Beven said the company has now harvested about 50 per cent of this year’s crop.

“We’re well placed at the moment and the weather forecast is fairly stable,” he said. “We’re about 50 per cent through and in the south we’ll finish towards the weekend. “Everything had gone well so far and we’re hoping for another couple of weeks of good weather.” Harvesting elsewhere is expected to continue for another couple of weeks. “There won’t be a lot left by the end of the month,” Mr Beven said.

While the full yield results are not known just yet, early crop testing is looking positive with some good assay levels. “We’ve only had a couple, but we’ve had some very pleasing ones starting to emerge,” Mr Beven said.

Earlier in the season torrential rain and extremely wet conditions caused crop losses of about 1000ha of crop, some of which had been resown. Extractas is now harvesting about 2500ha this season. Mr Beven said the good assay results they were seeing so far was not unexpected.

“A couple of years ago we had a very low sunlight-hour spring, but it was surprising because the assays were good that year,” he said. “So we were expecting some of the better looking crops to assay well and early indications are that’s the case.”

Mr Beven said good yields would help some growers who had faced major challenges with a number of crops this season.

“There’s a lot hanging on it out there and a lot of people suffered significant loss of varying types throughout the year, so they’re badly in need of a bit of a break,” he said. “We’re quite happy with how the harvest is progressing at this stage and we haven’t had a lot of down time with weather interferences.”