Record grain harvest for fire-recovering Kangaroo Island

KI harvest video
BARLEY HARVEST: Taking a break from the grain harvest are Hayden Riley, Jeff "Fox" Ness, Josh Deer, Alex Dunn, Chris Dunn, Chelsea Wills and William Barrett, cropping manager at Manor Estate on Woodlana Station.

BARLEY HARVEST: Taking a break from the grain harvest are Hayden Riley, Jeff "Fox" Ness, Josh Deer, Alex Dunn, Chris Dunn, Chelsea Wills and William Barrett, cropping manager at Manor Estate on Woodlana Station.

Industry sources have confirmed that Kangaroo Island farmers have indeed reaped a record grain harvest this season.

And this bounty is just what the Island needed after the destruction of last summer's bushfires.

The loss of more than 50,000 sheep in last December and January's fires meant several graziers turned their paddocks over to cropping, adding to the Island's bumper harvest.

The Island can sometimes get too much rain in July, but this year it was just perfect followed by fantastic finishing spring rains.

Kangaroo Island Pure Grain took in 27,500 tonnes of barley, wheat, canola and broad beans, about 9000 tonnes more than last year.

And this figure does not take into account grain produced by farmers who grow cereal crops for their own stock feed purposes or to sell as stock feed.

Agriculture KI chairman Rick Morris, whose own south coast property was impacted on by the fires, said farmers who traditionally never grew grain but who had suitable land had put in crops of barley and even canola.

This may have contributed as much as 8000 to 10,000 additional tonnes of grain produced on the Island, over and above KIPG's total intake.

The South Australian government last year allowed the Island to maintain its GM-free status, which boosts prices KI Pure Grain receives for the canola and now possibly soft wheat sold into Japan for pancake flour.

PURE GRAIN: Local trucking company Ugly Dog Transport picks up another load at the Kangaroo Island Pure Grain terminal outside of Kingscote.

PURE GRAIN: Local trucking company Ugly Dog Transport picks up another load at the Kangaroo Island Pure Grain terminal outside of Kingscote.

KIPG's barley goes to Cooper's malting plant for use this year across its domestic craft beer range.

Farmers on KI predominantly grow the Planet variety, which also contributed greatly to the bumper yields, according to KIPG CEO Shane Mills.

"Not only did we have record yields, the quality was up too," Mr Mills said.

Only 10 per cent of the barley taken in by KIPG was downgraded to feed barley, with rest making the grade for Malt 1 at Coopers.

Travis Bell, the next generation of farmer at Bellevista farms, confirmed records had been set this year and also the quality had been excellent.

Not only on their own farms, but across the Island.

"A number of cropping farmers were impacted on by the fires and had great crops," he said. "Farmers who lost sheep were able to a harvest a good crop, so it's been a moral boost after a kick in the guts."

Mr Bell said his operation's own barley yields were 8.2 tonnes per hectare, but they also had record canola, wheat and bean crops.

Feeding the sheep

Quality is vital for Steve and Lucy Morgan of KI Oats down on the south coast, as they produce their own niche oat crop, processed on the mainland and sold across Australia for use in baking and porridge.

"It was very good and we had very good yields with very little issues other than a bit of wind at the end," Mr Morgan said.

New technology and equipment, coupled with a new generation of enthusiastic young farmers have also been attributed as contributing to KI's bumper harvest.

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