THIS year's Riverina rice crop is the second smallest the region has seen since the start of the Millennium Drought in 2003.
The harvest was recently completed and, as anticipated, was not much to write home about thanks to low water availability and high water prices.
Just 54,000 paddy tonnes of rice was harvested, which was a fraction of last year's 623,000 tonnes.
SunRice general manager global agribusiness and sustainability Tom Howard said despite water-related challenges and seasonal conditions fluctuating, Riverina growers had shown resilience and expertise.
"Given the difficult conditions, we're appreciative of those growers who grew rice this year and thank them for their ongoing support of the industry," he said.
"Overall yields were above the five-year average, with a grower in the MIA 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, the crop yielded 14 tonnes per hectare, far outstripping the region's five-year average of 11.3 tonnes per hectare."
Both of 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.
A combination of improved irrigation layouts, machinery technology and available weed control options ensured drill sowing helped to deliver top yields with decreased water use.
Growers also reported between one to two megalitres per hectare less water use compared to crops grown using other methods.
The Reiziq crop generated an estimated gross profit margin of $6270 per hectare (or $505 per megalitre) and the Doongara crop delivered an estimated $6270/ha (or $539 per megalitre).
SunRice was forced late last year to cut jobs from its Leeton and Deniliquin mills as a result of the current drought.
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