January 9, 2013
Normal service has resumed in the Murraylands’ grain fields, as the State harvest is on track for a season of average yields after two boom years. Viterra had received 5.4 million tonnes of South Australian grain by December 30 – far less than the 2011 and 2012 harvests, which were among the four biggest on record – but in line with the previous eight years’ average of 5.6 million tonnes. Sites around the Murray Mallee region have been preparing to ship the 258,000 tonnes received by the year’s end. The yield represents a fall on early expectations, as Primary Industries and Regions SA had predicted a harvest of 6.2 million tonnes worth $1.5 billion at the farm gate. Yesterday, AWB was paying $226 to 266 per tonne for H2-grade wheat, $240 to 253 for APW1 and $220 to 233 for ASW1 at sites around the Murraylands and Mallee. On Friday, H2-grade wheat was fetching $292 per tonne from Viterra at Port Adelaide, APW1 was worth $280 and ASW1 was returning $262. Callington farmer Nathan Wegener, pictured right, who finished harvesting on Christmas Eve, said he had brought in above average yields and that the early rains had not presented a problem. “Because we had a full soil profile, we managed to get through that without much trouble,” he said. “Our protein was low, but we didn’t have any issues with weather downgrading the quality, which was a change from the past two years. “We didn’t have any issues with frost here, which was good, but I know they did at Karoonda and parts of the South East.” Although he had expected slightly higher prices at the start of the season, Mr Wegener said he was content with what was being offered. He and his brother planned to use some of their harvest for seed and sell some on to other farmers for the same purpose. Areas of the Mallee and upper South East lost an estimated 10 to 30 per cent of their crops to frost before harvest began.