Crop farmers get grain harvest underway on Kangaroo Island

The 2019 grain harvest on Kangaroo Island is shaping up to be an excellent yield.

Growing conditions have been perfect with an good early winter rains, a much-needed top up of around 30mm in September and now good finishing weather.

KI cropping farmers this week started harvesting the Island's barley and some canola, while the wheat harvest is still some weeks away and broad beans will come last.

Travis Bell from Bellevista farms on Wednesday, November 27 started harvesting his barley crop and said he was very pleased with the way the crops were turning out.

"It's been one of the best years we've had," Mr Bell said.

He was yet to see the final figures from his barley harvest, but he estimated yields from the Springs Road paddocks of between 6.5 and 7 tonnes per hectare.

They did lose a crop of wheat at Cygnet River to frost, the first frost loss he can recall impacting on crops, but that was turned into hay for stock feed.

Hay production had also been excellent across the Island, with Bellevista expected to produce 4500 bales, of which 1800 was the failed wheat crop.

The only thing lacking for farmers and rural dwellers across the Island had been the lack of heavy ran to fill farms dams and rainwater tanks that were already running dry.

Less rainfall also fell on the eastern end of the Island.

This is the second year that the Bells have the Seed Terminator device, invented by Kangaroo Island's Nick Berry, strapped to the back of their Claas Lexion 600 headers.

They were looking to see a reduction in rye grass weeds in the crops over coming years, he said.

OAT CROP: The Morgan family check out their oat crop just before harvest. Photo KI Oats

OAT CROP: The Morgan family check out their oat crop just before harvest. Photo KI Oats

Meanwhile Steve Morgan at KI Oats on KI's south coast finished his harvest on Sunday, November 24.

"It's been an excellent harvest, really good," Mr Morgan said. "The oats were bigger, brighter and didn't have the staining of last year."

KI cereal croppers in 2018 were hit with late rains in November and into December that impacted on both yield and quality.

The Morgans store their oat harvest in air-tight silos on their farm before it is shipped to Blue Lake Milling at Bordertown for packaging early next year.

The rest of Kangaroo Island's grain is handled by KI Pure Grain where site manager Dennis Jamieson said the harvest was proceeding well in its early stages.

KIPG had taken in about 2500 tonnes of barley from three growers so far but the harvest had just started with a couple more growers getting active later in the week.

Westminster barley grown on the Island goes to Coopers' new state-of-the-art malting plant in Adelaide.

And this year, all of the Coopers Brewery's KI maltings will go to the Hite Brewery Company in South Korea.

Mr Jamieson said Coopers was interested in starting to trail the use of Planet barley, the variety grown at Bellevista, for use in its malting plant.

KIPG meanwhile has also just started taking delivery of the first GM-free canola of the 2019 season, all of which is supplied to the Palsystem cooperative in Japan.

The canola harvest will continue for some weeks, after which wheat will be harvested and finally broad beans later in December, Mr Jamieson said.

Last year, the wheat harvest that was impacted on by late rains was kept on Island as feed for the growing sheep population.

But with sufficient yields and quality this year, KI wheat could also again be marketed for flour processing on the mainland to companies such a Laucke and Arnott's Australia.


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