Lower yield, but high hopes

BUSY: Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia executive director Ruth Wade is expecting another good year for crops, despite smaller water allocations.

THE Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) has predicted this year’s rice harvest in the MIA will be down on the 2014 crop.

Growers in the Leeton shire region are experiencing a crucial time for their crops in terms of weather conditions, but they have had mother nature on their side.

Humid days have assisted many of the rice crops in the region, with recent rain also helping the cause.

Last year around 700,000 tonnes of rice was harvested, but RGA executive director Ruth Wade believes it will be a lower number for the upcoming harvest.

“I don’t want to put a number on it this year because it’s hard to say,” Mrs Wade said.

“Growers have just 40 per cent of their water allocation this year, so not as many have put in as much rice as they would like.

“This year it will be all about the quality.

“It’s a critical period at the moment because temperatures need to be just right.

“It’s still going to be a decent year … prices are good.

“It’s not doom and gloom.”

Late last year SunRice chairman Gerry Lawson announced a price increase for growers that is now in place.

There has been a $20 increase to the full year paddy price, lifting it to at least $360 per tonne for medium grain and $490 per tonne for Koshihikari.

Mrs Wade said while growers may not have the biggest rice crops this year or have opted not to grow the product, the industry was looking positive.

“There’s generally a really positive feeling out there,” she said.

“The low water allocations is a problem, but growers are doing what they can with what they have.

“They are a resilient bunch and will hope for better allocations next year.

“I do know many have enjoyed good winter crops, so that’s good, but the general feeling out there is good.”

Mrs Wade said harvest would likely begin earlier this year, perhaps in late March.

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