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Australia - Headers return to SA paddocks

Some Mid North croppers may have lost nearly all their harvest, after rain and hail pelted the region last week.

A severe thunderstorm passed through the region, dumping falls as high as 107 millimetres at Jamestown, 90mm at Redhill, 78mm at Georgetown and 92mm at Port Pirie.

Elders Burra agronomist Cameron Searle said he heard of 30-130mm in the district which also had significant crop damage from hail.

“The hail was marble-sized and larger, causing anywhere from 30 per cent to 100pc crop loss through the strip of Mount Bryan, Booboorowie, Burra and down towards Robertstown,” he said.

“Harvest was a week to a fortnight away, so the cereals were at a very fragile stage, while anything with pods would have been susceptible to shattering.

“Most would have insurance, so depending on the severity, those crops would either be grazed off or harvested for stock feed.”

Mr Searle said croppers in the region were on track for an average season prior to the storm.

“We already had some grain-fill issues because of moisture stress in late September and that heatwave in early October, but those that copped this recent rain would expect further downgrades,” he said.

“The warm days and breeze in the weekend would have dried most areas out, and there is a small fraction of farmers back out harvesting peas and barley around here.

“Thankfully there is no more significant rain predicted, so it’s all systems go to get off what is left and get it delivered to see how bad the damage really is.”

Agrilink consultant Jeff Braun confirmed the high crop losses in the Mid North, in isolated areas where there was rain and hail.

“It was such heavy rain and some got up to 50 centimetres of hail, you really couldn’t avoid it,” he said.

While it was still wet underneath, Mr Braun said harvest was underway.

“I have been quite surprised with how quickly the rain has dried up, helped by the warm weather on the weekend and some wind,” he said.

“We have been pretty lucky in that regard.

“In the Lower to Mid North, not a lot has been harvested, but it has definitely held growers up on the YP for a few days.

“At this stage, further grain quality downgrades seem minimal. It could even improve quality on some crops, like barley, with grain swelling from the rain.”

But any hay still left out in the rain would be affected.

“There will definitely be quality downgrades there,” Mr Braun said.

Bureau of Meteorology SA acting regional director John Nairn said the low pressure system developed in the west of SA, before moving slowly south-eastwards, and included a number of supercell storms on a trough line.

“This resulted in very heavy rainfall and large hail, particularly around the Burra area,” he said.

On eastern Eyre Peninsula, crops copped a fair drenching with 68mm at Cleve, 77mm at Darke Peak, 89mm and Whyalla.

But Cleve cropper Justin Bammann said harvest was “barely affected” in his area after 57mm.

“There has been a little skin wrinkle on our lentils, but our wheat is still going APW,” he said.

“We got back into harvest on Sunday after hot weather on the weekend.”

He expects harvest to continue on the above-average track it was headed on.

“We had rain at the right time during the season,” Mr Bammann said.

“If we didn’t have that hot long weekend in October, it would have been exceptional.”

Down on the Lower EP, Randall Wilksch said there was also limited damage at Yeelanna after 25mm.

“We got about 20mm in 20 minutes in the first front on Wednesday and then another 5mm across the following two days,” he said.

“Port Lincoln didn’t get much either (21mm).

“We were pretty happy to only get that, because north of us it was worse.”

But Mr Wilksch said harvest was back full steam ahead after hot weather on the weekend.

“We are about 25pc through harvest, while most south of Cummins were yet to start or only just starting,” he said.

“We have finished off our canola, and are on to reaping lentils this week.

“There has been some lodging, but as to quality, it’s hard to tell as we are not that far along.”

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