2013 barley production in South Australia

Date posted: 27 February 2014

Well... another year of cropping in South Australia is complete with most farmers finishing their harvest around Christmas.

It is estimated that around 2.3 million tonnes of barley will be produced by SA farmers in the 2013-14 season from the 925,000 hectares grown. This is an average to above average result.

Since barley crops in South Australia are not irrigated farmers rely solely on rainfall events to keep the crop ticking along. Farmers hope that the rain falls at the right time in the right amount to ensure their crops grow and develop, set the right amount of tillers and ‘fill’ resulting in good quality, plump grains.  Other environmental conditions such as wind, frost, humidity and temperature also affect crop production.

Here’s a snap shot of the 2013 growing conditions

  • Winter conditions were reasonably good which ensured the crops were off to a good start. In fact, at the start of spring some were estimating the largest crop ever grown in South Australia, as long as Mother Nature was willing to play her part…
  • There was average rainfall in September, however, maximum temperatures were the highest on record in most regions.
  • There was below average rainfall in October while maximum temperatures were mostly above average. Crops were relying on stored soil moisture and got a tad thirsty!
  • Throughout October (when the grain was filling and ripening) there were strong to gale force winds which flattened many crops and caused some ‘shattering’ (meaning the grain fell out of the barley head). Some farmers estimated that they lost 30% to 50% of their grains.
  • Severe frosts throughout October caused damage to crops across the State. Frosts can cause frost bite resulting in grain sterility and impairing the grains ability to fill.

Despite these events, growers still achieved an average to above average year. How you ask? It comes down to science and good management. The crops grown these days are a result of years of research and development. They are bred and selected to be more stress tolerant and better suited to harsh Australian conditions. Farmers are also great managers of their land, they use techniques such as no till cropping and weed management to help retain and conserve stored soil water, meaning there is more for the plant to access. See our water use efficiency blog for further info.    

Did you know?

According to Primary Industries and Resources South Australia, the South Australian grain industry contributes up to $4.6 billion to the State’s economy.

References

ABARES 2013, Australian crop report, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra, December, CC BY 3.0.