Wimmera harvest 2016 a mixed bag | Photos

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STRONG yields and high-quality crops throughout the Wimmera have put a spring in most growers’ step however low grain prices have also hit hard.

It was a year that was full of promise, after an early season break made growers optimistic about the season ahead.

It was a wet winter and Longerenong and Kaniva recorded the wettest July since 1995.

However, above average September rain and floods caused many crops to start falling over.

Paddocks became waterlogged, making spraying for diseases difficult.

It was the wettest spring in two decades for Beulah, Rupanyup Natimuk, Kaniva, Apsley, Great Western, Warracknabeal and Longerenong. 

Frosts in October also worried growers.

However, mild temperatures meant crops were slow to ripen and harvest started in late-November, weeks later than usual.

Grain sites are now reporting high quality crops in large quantities. 

Birchip Cropping Group chief executive Chris Sounness said most growers in the northern Wimmera had finish stripping barley and canola and had started stripping wheat and lentils.

“Most people are saying it’s a really excellent season and the quality of the crops is excellent,” he said.

“Harvest has been slow going because the crops are so thick, but I think people appreciate that after the past couple of years.

“We are going about two to three weeks slower than last year, which is probably a good thing.”

Mr Sounness said harvest could extend into the new year.

“It is really on a farm-by-farm basis, but I would say there is probably another few weeks in it,” he said.

“I’m sure people will be wanting to spend time with their families over Christmas and New Year though.”

​Agriculture Victoria Horsham agronomist Jason Brand said despite the strong season, it was important communities pulled together to support those who weren’t doing as well.

“There are some guys who were hit pretty hard with waterlogging and frosts,” he said.

Low grain prices have also meant some growers will struggle to finish with a good profit margin. 

“We need to look over the fence and make sure our neighbours are okay,” Mr Brand said.

“We need to keep in mind how other people are travelling – it’s so important.”

Victorian Farmers Federation president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said harvest had been a mixed bag.

“Some people have been smashed by frost and the quality is well down,” he said.

“The test weights have been light as well.”

Mr Jochinke said low grain prices had also taken the shine off the year.

“We aren’t going to kill the pig with this year,” he said.

“Last year was financially my worst year in agriculture and this year had the potential to be the best year I’ve ever had, but I don’t think it will be now.”

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