Plastic solution to short crop problem

Jo FulwoodCountryman

While many parts of the State are experiencing bumper crops, some farmers are facing yield loses due to the inability of their headers to handle short crops.

DAFWA development officer Glen Riethmuller said some parts of the Eastern and Northern Wheatbelt, had not received adequate rainfall this season and these farmers were now faced with the challenge of harvesting short crops.

But Mr Riethmuller said the solution was just a simple bit of black plastic.

"What we've done is to make a tine reel into a bat reel, by zip tying on Corflute, which is 5mm black plastic - it's just like plastic cardboard," he said

"By putting on this Corflute, it wipes the knife clean and the crop gets swept in.

"It only needs to be one piece per complete revolution of the reel."

Mr Riethmuller said the Corflute allowed for worn finger tine reels, which tended to wear towards the centre of the front, extending down evenly to the knife.

"Black Corflute is more suitable than white because it reduces the reflection at night and is best with the ribs running down the finger for added strength," he said.

Mr Riethmuller said trials in 2002, which was a low rainfall year, had shown losses of up to 0.3 tonnes per hectare in short lupin crops, and 12 per cent losses were occurring in wheat crops.

"We try and get losses down to 3 per cent for the cereals," he said.

"Otherwise it adds up to a lot of dollars.

"If you have short wheat and you are losing 70 kg/ha, that's certainly a lot of dollars that you are losing out on, particularly in a lean year."

Mr Riethmuller said DAFWA and farmers had trialled various materials, including screens, gutter guards and heavy insertion plastic, but the most efficient solution had been the relatively cheap and easily accessible 5mm plastic Corflute sheeting.

"Corflute is so light, there is no balancing problem," he said.

He said growers could contact DAFWA's Merredin officer for further assistance.

The black Corflute is available from sign writers.

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