Eastern Eyre farmers face tough 2019 harvest

CUTTING LOSSES: Buckleboo farmer Tristan Baldock began cutting for hay early this month.

CUTTING LOSSES: Buckleboo farmer Tristan Baldock began cutting for hay early this month.

Eastern Eyre Peninsula farmers are cutting for hay as a continued lack of rain and warm, windy weather causes crops to fail.

Buckleboo farmer Tristan Baldock began trying to salvage some of his crops for hay earlier this month but with yield at about half a tonne per hectare, he said they did not have the biomass to make it a viable option.

"We've pulled up a fair bit short," he said.

Mr Baldock said he had "struck a line" through some of his family's crops at both Kimba and Buckleboo after early rains in 2019 turned into a dry July and August with both frost and warm weather causing damage.

After ideal seeding conditions saw high growth potential, a dry July was followed by freezing conditions in August, and September weather already reaching 30 degrees on multiple occasions.

Mr Baldock said this year's conditions were "the worst sort of drought you can have," with some farmers in the region looking unlikely to get their seed back.

While he said the frost in some cases had "capped back" the growth of crops that may have otherwise died, recent warm weather was proving the final nail in the coffin in some cases.

"We've seen those really droughted crops... they've really shut down."

He said areas in the Kimba district that traditionally did well were having especially tough seasons, with one farmer he had spoken to saying the rain was the worst he had seen in his 50 years of farming.

Across the region, he said farmers were cutting for hay in a bid to salvage crops that will not fill and store feed for their livestock.

"It's a matter of self-preservation for summer with stock," Mr Baldock said.

He said the hay being cut was "salvage hay" and it was likely little to no hay would be exported from Kimba this season.

The Baldocks are looking at beginning harvest in earnest in as soon as late September, which Mr Baldock said was the earliest the family could remember harvesting.

He said he expected the harvest to be "character building," because while they were expecting their barley crops to fill, the crops are short and will be difficult to process.

"We've got a fair area that will produce some grain but very small quantities," he said.

He said they were expecting yields around 0.2-0.3 tonnes per hectare, which would only be economical with high grain prices.

However, Mr Baldock said he was confident they would get their seed back and be able to sell some grain this harvest.