Headers roll as harvest starts

Moree headers on a roll as harvest kicks off

Cropping
Charles Pitman and Charlie Onus were busy working for Vicki Gall (centre), Wallambah, Moree, as harvest kicked off on Saturday.

Charles Pitman and Charlie Onus were busy working for Vicki Gall (centre), Wallambah, Moree, as harvest kicked off on Saturday.

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The town is buzzing and there is plenty of positivity around.

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Header drivers have their ears pinned back as they race to get off the highly anticipated winter crop.

Frost damage and rain has had some impact, but overall growers are beaming with excitement, and small businesses bolstered by the flow-on from of the prospective crops.

The Land heard some reports of barley testing up to 18 per cent protein, while other farms were producing high yields with very little inputs.

Graeme and Vicki Gall, Wallambah, Moree, have had four headers and three chaser bins in overdrive from Saturday as they began harvesting 1500 hectares of Commander barley, planted on May 9.

Early indications had the crop sitting at around 5 tonnes/ha as the harvest team moved at six kilometres an hour, quite a contrast to the fast pace of harvesting a 1t/ha crop last year.

Vicki Gall, Wallambah, Moree with their barley crop on Monday.

Vicki Gall, Wallambah, Moree with their barley crop on Monday.

With just a 20 kilogram starter, then no other fertiliser, and about 94 millimetres of in-crop rain, the Galls could only describe this year's crop as extraordinary.

"We haven't had a ridiculous amount of rain but we have had rain at the right time and just nice temperatures," Ms Gall said.

"We soil tested and it didn't need it... but somehow these crops are setting themselves up for massive yields with really no extra nitrogen.

Ms Gall also said the district was buzzing - "It is wonderful to see that everyone is enthused".

Moree Chamber of Commerce chair, Dibs Cush, said there was a definite feeling of positivity around the town.

However, there was still a lot of crop to get off so they weren't ready to pop the champagne corks.

"We are all on tenter hooks because it's so important to get this harvest," she said.

"It's not just the retailers that benefit, it's all the small businesses, ag suppliers, tyres, batteries, spare parts - we are all banking on this. This time last year we were looking down the barrel of brown dirt and rolling dust storms."

Nutrien Moree agronomist Garry Onus said frost damage was variable and some crops were a few rainfalls short of a bumper result, particularly to the east.

The better crops were to the west where some growers hadn't planted for three years.

"Growers are very thankful to get what they get. Most are chewing at the bit with the forecast of a La Nina... but they are wary, it was forecast to be a wet winter too."

GrainCorp has already received around 200,000t from Queensland and NSW, according general manager of operations, Nigel Lotz.

"The key northern sites they're coming into include Moree, Weemelah, Garah and now we've had a few loads into Walgett," Mr Lotz said.

Vicki Gall with Marc Shaw of Shaw's Ag Contracting, Deniliquin.

Vicki Gall with Marc Shaw of Shaw's Ag Contracting, Deniliquin.

"... but we will receive hundreds of thousands of tonnes a day in the thick of harvest, it will be big. And across the board there's been good quality so far, with clean grain samples and higher proteins."

Delta Ag agronomist Ellie Readford said at Coonamble some growers were already taking moisture samples and most were expected to get going by mid-next week, depending on the weather.

"The only concern now is they're talking some rain for early next week so everyone's getting a bit anxious about that," Ms Readford said.

Predictions for crop yields in the region are sitting at around 4t/ha for barley and 3.5t/ha for wheat.

"There are some very big crops there but we have had more frost damage than average this year, with both pulse and wheat crops being affected," Ms Readford said.

Grassroots Agronomy's Greg Condon, Junee said growers in the Riverina were anywhere from two to eight weeks away from harvest.

"Obviously further west things are starting to mature now and even out there they're set up for fantastic yield potential," Mr Condon said.

He said temperature had been the most important factor for this year's crops.

"It's been a good year based on rainfall timing but we actually haven't had huge amounts of rainfall, it's been more temperature," Mr Condon said.

"With the low, mild spring like we've been having, temperate crops can go through their growth stages at a really slow rate.

"There's been very minimal frosts as well, so there hasn't been a lot of pressure from extreme cold or extreme heat."

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