Small harvest ahead

By Country News

The Southern Riverina will be similar to most of Australia and have a small 2018-19 winter crop.

According to agri-business bank Rabobank, a combination of extreme dry weather and damaging frost will deliver Australia its smallest winter crop in 10 years.

The 2018-19 Winter Crop Production Outlook is predicting a national harvest of just 29.3million tonnes, down 23 per cent from last year.

The bank forecasts total Australian grain exports to be down about 50 per cent on last year, at 13.9million tonnes.

Wheat exports are predicted to decline almost 50 per cent on last year, to 8.6million tonnes — the lowest export volume since 2007.

Finley-based independent agronomist John Lacy said the Southern Riverina was most likely going to endure one of the smallest harvests since the millennium drought.

‘‘Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do as there’s no rain and we don’t have a water allocation,’’ Mr Lacy said.

‘‘The big problem during the millennium drought was we didn’t have an allocation.

‘‘Pastures for livestock is what most farms will grow.

‘‘A lot of new crops missed out on the rain so many, such as canola, was baled for hay. Luckily some canola farmers will be able to make a profit from that.

‘‘There hasn’t been a consistent fall of rain, it’s been patchy. Some farms missed out on a lot of rain while ... (a) few others were lucky to receive some rainfall.

‘‘I think most farmers have made a decision on what they’ll do ... during winter when it comes to harvest.’’

Mr Lacy said farmers would need to ‘‘pray for good autumn rain’’ if there’s any chance of a winter crop season.

‘‘If there are big storms over the catchments it can increase our chance of a water allocation.’’