Revved up for harvest

Storm rain brings short delay to wheat harvest in Dulacca district

Cropping
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You would have to go back a decade to find the last time the Ulimaroa grain storage facility at Dulacca was as busy as it is at the moment.

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Brian Christensen, Dalby, unloading wheat at the Ulimaroa silos east of Dulacca on Sunday. Pictures: Sally Gall

Brian Christensen, Dalby, unloading wheat at the Ulimaroa silos east of Dulacca on Sunday. Pictures: Sally Gall

You would have to go back a decade to find the last time the Ulimaroa grain storage facility at Dulacca was as busy as it is at the moment.

Part-owner and local farmer Rowan Parkinson was one of those at the site on Sunday when trucks were lining up to unload and said the flow of deliveries since the wheat harvest began had given the district a buzz.

"We've taken about 6500 tonnes in four days - I don't think you would have seen that for many years," he said.

Around eight to 10 local farmers deliver to the site, which can receive 120t per hour, and Mr Parkinson said the season was the best since 2016.

Related: Dulacca grain site up and away

He said the crop was going over 3t to the hectare in places, and his site manager Mark Riordan said the quality was very good.

"There's good protein, excellent test weight and very low screenings," he said. "It's averaging 12.5 to 13 per cent protein, screenings are below 5pc, and the test weight here is between 82 and 86."

He said that was due to it getting a good start with rain, as well as in-crop rain and then some to finish it off.

In addition, there was no frost in the district this year.

While the rain fell at the right time during the growing period, storms this week have already managed to bring a small delay in getting crops off.

Storm clouds on Sunday lent an air of urgency to the harvesters at work in the paddocks around the Ulimaroa grain storage complex.

Storm clouds on Sunday lent an air of urgency to the harvesters at work in the paddocks around the Ulimaroa grain storage complex.

Properties around the Dulacca region had between 10 and 20mm on Monday afternoon, with up to 60mm in isolated patches.

Mr Parkinson said they'd stopped receiving on Tuesday but were hoping to be underway again on Wednesday.

Mr Riordan said it would be ideal if the rain stayed away from the district for another seven days to get the job done.

"This rain won't damage the wheat but another fall like that will," he said.

It's expected that much of the grain going into the facility will end up being exported to Bangladesh and the Middle East, and Mr Riordan said it was good to have the storage facility open to help local growers market their grain, give them flexibility in when they deliver it, and help them lower their freight costs.

The Ulimaroa storage holds 14,000t of grain, which is not expected to accommodate the whole harvest from the district.

Mr Riordan said growers would likely have contracts with feedlots or would use the Graincorp silos at Miles for their overflow.

Ken Bray had travelled all the way east from Ilfracombe to join the Maranoa harvesting fray.

Ken Bray had travelled all the way east from Ilfracombe to join the Maranoa harvesting fray.

The harvest has had a pleasurable ripple effect on the district as the local service station, hotel and mechanics all enjoy the activity brought about by the extra trucks going to and fro.

Drivers such as Dalby's Brian Christensen and his Western Star AB triple roadtrain and its 68 tonne payload are among those on the job in the Dulacca district.

His unit is the biggest configuration that can be received at the Ulimaroa site.

Among the hustle and bustle at the silos on the weekend was a truck driver all the way from Ilfracombe, near Longreach.

Such was the demand for trucks to handle the volume of grain coming off that Ken Bray had dusted off his distinctive red 1993 Mack Super-Liner with two trailers and headed east to help bring in the Maranoa and Western Downs crop.

Mr Bray said the last time he'd been called in to help with the harvest was for the bumper 2016 chickpea crop.

Since then he's done everything from mustering to fencing and cementing tanks to spraying prickly acacia, as well as drive for Hillmans.

He arrived at 5pm on Saturday and by Sunday evening had carted in five loads.

"It's a good season so it looks as though I'll be down here for a while," he said.

It's just as well he got the call as funding for prickly acacia control has dried up, he said.

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