Published online by Cobram Courier on January 6, 2014.
This article also appeared in print on January 1.
Cobram and surrounding district grain farmers are locking up their sheds for an end-of-year break after what some are labelling a ‘‘disappointing’’ harvest.
Burramine grain farmer Peter Lawless said conditions were favourable for most of the year, but a severe frost on October 18 changed everything.
Mr Lawless estimated about 15 per cent of the wheat and canola crops on his 1000ha property were damaged by the frost.
‘‘This year was promising to be probably the best season we’d ever had,’’ Mr Lawless said.
‘‘But (the frost) turned the season into one of the worst we’ve had.
‘‘We probably lost half of our yield. It was a real shock.’’
Department of Environment and Primary Industries seasonal variability agronomist Dale Grey said the severity of the October 18 frost surprised most farmers across the Hume region.
‘‘I think most farmers would say the season was disappointing because they had hoped for much more,’’ Mr Grey said.
‘‘The crops looked really good (before the frost). They looked capable of yielding a lot more than they did.’’
Mr Grey said most farmers harvested in early December, about a week earlier than he expected.
‘‘Warmer temperatures through some months of the year hastened the maturity of the crops.
‘‘There was also a lack of rainfall in October that brought the crops into maturity a lot quicker.’’
But Mr Grey said grain farmers were a resilient bunch, and he was confident they wouldn’t be discouraged by the year’s results.
‘‘Once it comes to March or April and they’re ready to plant, many will be excited and keen once again,’’ he said.
‘‘The nature of grain farmers is that they’re eternally optimistic.’’
Mr Lawless shares that nature. Despite his poor yield, he said he was focusing on the positives.
‘‘The price is still pretty good and that’s helped. We didn’t get the double whammy of poor yield and poor price.
‘‘And the quality was good; there was some small grain but the protein levels were really good.
‘‘We’ll get everything in as H2, which is the top category that you can grow in this area.’’