THE Riverina’s rice harvest will be slightly bigger than first predicted.
SunRice is reporting the forecast for this year’s harvest of 600,000 has been extended by about 25,000 tonnes thanks to strong yields across the board, as well as different rice varieties.
So far, 615,000 tonnes have been delivered to SunRice’s Australian Grain Storage (AGS) depots across the Riverina, with a further 10,000 tonnes expected by the end of May, when harvest is likely to be completed.
While overall yields for the season are yet to be confirmed, a standout result was a 14.8 tonnes per hectare yield achieved for a medium grain Reiziq crop grown in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, which outstripped the region’s five-year average of 11.7 tonnes per hectare by 3.1 tonnes/hectare.
Highlighting Australian rice growers’ reputation as the world’s most water efficient, this high yielding crop was grown using only 9.6 megalitres of water (1.5 tonnes being produced per megalitre), which far exceeds the targeted industry benchmark of 1 tonne/1 megalitre of water.
Across the Riverina this season, it was relatively common for growers to achieve yield to water usage rates of around 1.25 tonnes per megalitre.
This particular crop generated a gross profit margin of approximately $3,700/ha or $380 per megalitre of water.
Premium speciality varieties shine
TOP performing varieties this harvest were Doongara (used for SunRice’s Low GI range sold in Australia and exported around the world) and Opus (a short grain rice preferred for Japanese cuisine).
- Doongara is predominantly grown in the MIA
- Opus is grown in the Murray Valley and this year performed on par with Reiziq
- Koshihikari, a premium short grain preferred for the restaurant sushi market, also performed well in the Eastern Murray Valley where it is mainly grown
- Medium grain Reiziq continues to deliver solid yields
- Reiziq continued to outperform, achieving the following results across the various regions where it is grown:
- MIA: top 20 per cent of growers achieved 13.5 tonnes/hectare, up 1.8 tonnes/hectare on the five-year average (for reiziq).
Key drivers of the 2018 harvest
SUNRICE general manager AGS, grower services and agronomic development, Tom Howard said key drivers for the 2018 harvest results were a combination of excellent ground preparation, use of precision agriculture technologies to manage fertiliser and water applications, and favourable growing conditions.
“We are delighted with the results of the 2018 rice harvest,” he said.
“It is a testament to the skills of our growers, who use the latest, most efficient farming techniques and technologies, that this year’s yields have bumped up our original crop forecast by around 4 per cent, which is an outstanding outcome.
“However, the very hot weather experienced at the beginning of April will result in greater variation in whole grain yields, on average, for the 2018 crop than the results that were recorded last year.
“This season has again proven that Riverina rice growers are the best in the world, not only for productivity but for water use efficiency as a result of top irrigation layouts, technology usage and exceptional management.”