The early season predictions of a “lighter than last year” vintage have been wiped away with the astonishing February rains. Despite significant losses to hail and frost in some areas, enduring heatwaves throughout, powdery rejections in most regions and patchy yields following uneven flowering and fruit set, it seems it seems the Riverland will probably harvest 400K tonnes this year. The rains that many feared would cause further damage and loss seem to have worked miracles for many growers; helping to redeem a reasonable outcome in terms of yield, if not in a financial sense.
From a farmgate perspective, this increased yield will boost the regional economy with an additional winegrower contribution of approximately $8.5M to the region. If these latest predictions are correct, winegrowers income will improve to an estimated $86M, from the earlier $77M.
It remains to be seen what the total Australian crush will be and it’s likely to be August before those numbers are finally revealed. For more than a decade, growers have been calling for better information about likely future prices to assist with decision making about what to do to improve returns. This requirement for growers to be able to predict future price movements with greater certainty was the major driver for the Wine Industry Code of Conduct. Recent years’ evidence indicates the Code has not achieved that objective by a long shot. The Wine Grape Council of SA has pledged to work with PIRSA to run an annual program each June to provide growers with market outlook information before they commence pruning and spraying.
Riverland Wine strongly supports that initiative but in the interim, take note of this year’s crush results as they come to hand. If the national crush is anything like 1.8M tonnes it is unlikely there will be price relief in 2015. The ideal intake for Australia will be between 1.5 and 1.6M tonnes.