One of the lowest rice crops ever in Riverina

By Country News

Riverina rice growers have delivered one of the lowest rice crops in their history.

The 54000 paddy tonnes of rice harvested represents less than 10 per cent of the 2018 crop of 623000.

And of the 54000 tonne delivered this season, only 25.7 per cent came from the NSW Murray Valley.

It is a result of zero general security water allocation for NSW Murray irrigators.

Offering slight relief was great results in yield from the far smaller crop sizes.

SunRice global agribusiness and sustainability general manager Tom Howard said despite water-related challenges and seasonal conditions fluctuating from extreme heat to the occasional cold snap, Riverina growers had once again shown their resilience and expertise.

‘‘Given the difficult conditions, we’re appreciative of those who grew rice this year and thank them for their ongoing support of the industry,’’ Mr Howard said.

‘‘Overall yields were above the five-year average, with a grower in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area achieving a standout 15.4 tonnes per hectare for a medium-grain Reiziq crop — 30 per cent above the region’s five-year average of 11.8 tonnes per hectare.

‘‘This season also saw the best Doongara (low GI) yield recorded.’’

Grown in the MIA by Willbriggie farmer Robert Andreazza, the crop yielded 14tonnes/ha, far outstripping the region’s five-year average of 11.3tonnes/hectare.

‘‘Both these crops were drill sown, a technique that is growing in popularity and was used across 70 per cent of the area grown to rice this year,’’ Mr Howard said.

‘‘A combination of improved irrigation layouts, machinery technology and available weed-control options ensured drill sowing has delivered top yields with decreased water use.’’

The top crops highlighted Australian rice growers’ reputation as the world’s most water efficient.

The high-yielding Reiziq crop was grown using 12.4Ml/ha and the Doongara crop used 11.6Ml/ha, with both crops exceeding the targeted industry benchmark of one tonne/Ml.

SunRice said there were once again exceptional results achieved on a gross return per megalitre and hectare.

The Reiziq crop generated an estimated gross profit margin of $6270/ha (or $505/Ml) and the Doongara crop delivered an estimated $6270/ha (or $539/Ml).

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia president and Moulamein grower Jeremy Morton said the harvest numbers were really significant for local and farming communities.

‘‘You can’t have a 90 per cent reduction in your income without having a significant impact both for the grower and the community,’’ Mr Morton said.

‘‘It is a concerning outlook but what we do know from past experience is things can turn around very quickly.

‘‘If it turns wet, we get rain that fills the dams and good water allocation; farmers will respond very quickly and plant a crop.

‘‘We remain optimistic that things will improve and we will get to plant a crop (next season).’’