ONE OF the biggest fears for the domestic grains industry in the wake of this year’s drought was a potential shortage of quality grain.
In drought years there can often be high rates of pinched and shriveled grain, making it difficult to get hold of commodities such as quality hard wheat and malt barley.
However, farm leaders from across the nation have reported generally excellent quality this season, even where yields have been very low.
“There’s plenty of high protein grain out there and its generally good quality,” said Grain Growers chairman Brett Hosking, who farms in Victoria’s eastern Mallee.
“We had late rain in October and a cooler finish than you would expect in a drought year and both factors have contributed in ensuring there is not a heap of downgraded, high screenings grain about.”
Duncan Young, WAFarmers grains section president, said the high yields in Western Australia meant protein levels were down, but said grain size was excellent.
“We’re all very happy, the protein is down a bit but that is what happens when the crop is bigger and we’d rather grow the quantity than have lower amounts of high protein grain.
“There are definitely no issues with protein and there has been a fair bit of malt barley around.”
Claire Tucker, agronomist with Landmark at Minlaton on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, said the major quality concern in her area was frost damage.
“The frost has damaged both yield and quality in the barley that has come off so far, we also expect similar in the wheat when that comes in,” she said.
However, in paddocks free from frost she said the sample had been good.
Ross Johns, Victorian Farmers Federation grains group president, said most reports through Victoria had been for reasonable quality.
“I would say most people have been pleasantly surprised, especially in the barley, there have been reasonable percentages coming in at malt quality and not the massive problems with screenings you’d expect in a dry season.”
Ian Trevethan, Riverine Plains chairman and farmer at Corowa, in the southern Riverina, said there had not been widespread issues with downgrading in his area.