Waiting for the rains to arrive on Kangaroo Island and around South Australia after near-record crop last year

Seeding begins on KI: video

Kangaroo Island crop farmers, like the rest of us, are waiting for rain and the season to break.

The state government meanwhile announced this week the 2020-21 crop harvest was the second most lucrative crop on record in South Australia, reaching $2.5 billion in farm gate value from 9.14 million tonnes.

Despite rain not falling by Anzac Day on Kangaroo Island, or the rest of SA, the Bellevista Farms operation has begun seeding.

Others on the Island, and around SA, are waiting, some burning off stubble in anticipation.

Meanwhile, pastures to the south of the Island and on the western end have already begun greening up from some sporadic rains.

Rodney Bell from Bellevista said his operation had begun seeding in paddocks where there was still good sub-soil moisture from earlier summer falls.

Bellevista planned on planting more canola this year due its rotation schedule but that crop was also fetching a healthy price of around $700 a tonne.

The price of barley on the other hand, according to Kangaroo Island Pure Grain site manager Dennis Jamieson, had fallen to around $200 a tonne on export market jitters.

Kangaroo Island canola, and other grains, also fetch a premium, as the Island is the only GM-free zone in South Australia.

At the recent Kangaroo Island Council meeting, T-Ports stated that the Island's grain producers might be interested in the Kingscote export option being proposed for timber products.

But local grain producer Rodney Bell said Kangaroo Island Pure Grain was all about exporting to niche markets such as Japan and Allied Mills in container size loads and not bulk carriers.

Much of the grain also stays on Island for stock feed.

SOWING BEGINS: Bellevista Farms big Versatile tractor seeding barley in one of the Lockwood paddocks last Friday. Photo: Stan Gorton

SOWING BEGINS: Bellevista Farms big Versatile tractor seeding barley in one of the Lockwood paddocks last Friday. Photo: Stan Gorton

Near-record SA harvest 

The latest State Government 'Crop and Pasture Report' shows the $2.5 billion farm gate value from last year 2020-21 was only second to the 2010-11 $2.7 billion record value crop.

Kangaroo Island itself experienced a record year last year, producing estimates in excess of 45,000 tonnes.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the final production estimate for the 2020-21 growing season was 16 per cent above the long-term average.

"The 2020-21 harvest was a winner for the state's economy and much needed for our farmers following years of drought," Mr Basham said.

"It is a credit to our farming regions that continually produce bumper crops on marginal land with minimum rainfall.

"The second-highest farm gate value on record in South Australia for the 2020-21 crop demonstrates the commitment by our farmers to produce the best they can with the cards they are dealt.

"The report found grain quality across the state was above average with more grain than average meeting premium grade specifications for wheat and barley.

"This season's crop at 4 million hectares sown was the seventh largest on record for area.

"Harvest composition largely reflected that of previous seasons with wheat being by far the largest by crop area (2.2 million hectares) and production (5 million tonnes), followed by barley, pulses and oilseeds which was up on the past five seasons."

The report found that while growth rates of pastures increased with the wetter spring conditions, pasture production was less than normal resulting in livestock being moved onto stubble in mixed farming (cereal/livestock) areas, he said.

In pastoral areas the wet late winter/spring conditions improved feed and refilled water sources allowing restocking.

"Farmers are waiting anxiously for opening rains to get the 2021-22 season cropping program off to a good start.

"Farmers will have the opportunity to sow genetically modified canola seed in South Australia for the first time this Autumn following the removal of the 16-year moratorium on the state's mainland."

To read the full Crop and Pasture Report, visit pir.sa.gov.au/cropreport

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