PIRSA's latest crop and pasture report indicates a below average grain harvest

Challenging seasonal conditions during winter and spring have been affirmed after South Australia’s 2018-19 grain harvest fell to an estimated 4.9 million tonnes with harvest now underway.

The latest crop and pasture report from Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) reflects spring crop performance, which was quiet varied with several districts in the state experiencing drought. 

The 4.9 million tonne estimate grown from 3.5 million hectares comes in below South Australia’s long-term average of 7.5 million tonnes. 

Despite the below average harvest, the farmgate value of the state’s crop is estimated to hold up at $1.7 billion on the back of higher grain and fodder prices this season.

In the Lower Murray region rainfall in mid-October was too late to benefit most crops, but did aid some later-sown crops on the eastern side of the River Murray.

Most crop across the district are likely to yield well below average with the whole district considered to be drought affected.

Parures were reportedly in poor growth and very short, but still of reasonable quality.

Livestock numbers have been reduced by approximately 25 per cent compared to average. 

In the Southern Mallee crops suffered a dramatic yield reduction since the beginning of September due to unfavourable conditions for grain fill and parts of the district are drought affected. 

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said rainfall this growing season was below average across most of the state, with significant areas drought affected.

“This year we’re experiencing quiet a patchy situation – some areas are experiencing very good seasons while others are experiencing very difficult seasons,” said Minister Whetstone. 

“Most districts received very much below average rainfall in September.

“Several strong winds and some widespread frosts occurred in late September and early October.

“The widespread frosts damaged grain crops at their most vulnerable flowering to early grain fill stage. Around 10 per cent of the state’s grain crop was cut for hay as a result of the frost damage.

“We are working with industry, support agencies, communities and other government authorities to manage the state’s drought affected areas and importantly ensure our farmers know there is support available.” 

Producers are encouraged to call 1800 255 556 with questions related to current dry conditions.