Rice crop hampered by wet weather

TOP QUALITY: Local rice producers have reported excellent yields of quality rice.

TOP QUALITY: Local rice producers have reported excellent yields of quality rice.

LOCAL SunRice producers have reported excellent yields of good quality rice, but wet weather has delayed harvest by a month.

The season was limited by inadequate water allocations and the volume of rice produced was less than last year, but recent water falling from the skies has caused even more headaches.

Despite the reduction in quantity, SunRice general manager of grower services Mike Hedditch said this year’s harvest quality was excellent. 

“The 2014 rice harvest started slowly and is ending slowly due to rain interruptions, but is almost complete,” Mr Hedditch said.

“As a result of the rain delays, the closing date for the C14 crop pool has been extended from June 30 to July 31.

“We expect harvest will be completed by July 31 and we estimate a total of 825,000 tonnes of paddy will be received across all growing regions. 

“Total production is down on last year’s harvest which produced 1,161,000 tonnes. A number of factors contributed to this, including lower water availability in the Murrumbidgee Valley at planting time.”

Mr Hedditch said rice remained a very attractive crop to grow in the Riverina and would be encouraging irrigators to grow more rice in the year ahead.

He also praised locals for adapting to demand by growing more short grain and fragrant long grain varieties.

SunRice chief executive Rob Gordon told Fairfax Media more water needed to be made available for rice growers in a bid to increase production by more than 100,000 tonnes next year.

“‘We have done all of this growth without any government handouts or subsidies,” Mr Gordon said.

“This is just an Australian business ... that is being globally competitive and that is winning in offshore markets, and in reality just needs some of the handcuffs loosened a bit so that we can continue to grow and satisfy the demand that we are creating in all the different markets.

‘’This all depends on us being competitive with other crops and also the (water) entitlements that people are actually holding onto.”

Mr Gordon said 20 per cent more water was necessary to help farmers meet a growing demand for rice.

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