SA celebrates biggest harvest ever

WITH harvest coming to a close in the SE, the State as a whole has celebrated one of its biggest harvests in recorded history.

Primary Industries and Regions SA revealed in its 2013-14 crop and pasture report that SA's grain harvest was on track to be its third largest on record as of January 8 - with just the SE and Kangaroo island to finish harvest.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Gail Gago said: "The final estimate for this year places the final crop at 8.6 million tonnes, with an estimated farm gate value of around $2.1 billion and an export value of $2.8 billion. 

"Due to a dry spring, and some wind and frost damage in parts of the State, this is slightly down from our hopes of 8.9 million tonnes but nonetheless represents a significant harvest." 

The previous largest crops were 9.36 million tonnes in 2001 and the 10.34 million tonne record of 2010. 

PIRSA grains account manager Dave Lewis said the estimate was close to what the finals numbers would be.

"The estimates are very close to what our findings would be in the March report," he said.

"We can almost be certain it won't slip lower than the previous third largest and almost quite certain it won't reach the 9.36 million tonnes of 2001."

Mr Lewis admitted PIRSA's figures were in the end only an estimate, as while they had a record of what went into the bulk handlers they couldn't judge accurately what grain was left on-farm.

Yields across the State were average in the Murray Mallee and above average elsewhere, despite the dry and warm spring.

"Value is down slightly from last year due to declining prices in recent months, as well as the impact of lower protein and some smaller size grain in some regions," Mr Lewis said. 

"The hot finish to the season increased the percentage of small grain or screenings."

There was a lot more potential in the crops at the end of winter which was not fulfilled thanks to the conditions of spring.

Mr Lewis said to get 8.6 million tonnes out of the crops despite a poor spring was a "testament" to farmers.

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