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

HARVEST: PIRSA's latest crop and pasture report indicated challenging conditions during winter as grain harvest fell to an estimated 4.9 million tonnes. Photo: File.
HARVEST: PIRSA's latest crop and pasture report indicated challenging conditions during winter as grain harvest fell to an estimated 4.9 million tonnes. Photo: File.

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), released last week, reflects spring crop performance which was quite 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 Fleurieu crops are rapidly maturing and in areas with minimal to no soil moisture, crops are haying-off with little grain formed.

There has reportedly been minor frost damage to crops and grain yields will be significantly below average, possibly up to 50 per cent. 

Livestock are average to below average in condition. 

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 quite 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.