HOPE is high that the southern Riverina will have its best grain crop since the 1980s.
The good autumn break and follow-up rain has fostered farmers' expectations that, after lean drought years, they are in for a big harvest.
Underlining the confidence, bulk handler Graincorp from Wednesday will recruit 715 harvesting staff for southern NSW, the first time in four years it has sought so many seasonal workers.
Thirty each will be based at Oaklands and Henty West with Lockhart, Brocklesby and Boree Creek silos expected to open.
By comparison only a handful of staff were needed at the Oaklands terminal last year.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation is also gearing up for more grain trains on its Benalla-Oaklands line which is due to reopen in coming weeks.
Walla agronomist Tim Paramore said the wheat, canola, oats and barley crop was showing great potential.
"It's probably as good a start as we've had in 30 to 40 years," Mr Paramore said.
"People are saying it's the best season they've seen."
Federation Shire mayor Pat Bourke, who runs agricultural supplies stores at Urana and Oaklands, has had similar feedback and has seen sales up off the back of in-crop spraying.
"It's clearly shaping up as one of the best years we've had in a long, long time, probably comparable to 1986," Cr Bourke said.
"It's looking like a bumper season, there's plenty of moisture and the rainfall has been brilliant and we continue to get showers.
"The last three years, where we've been in drought, we've been getting mediocre crops, just enough to scrape over the line and a lot haven't come to anything.
"It's a completely different picture where you can drive around the country and everywhere is green and there's lush feed.
"It's mentally satisfying and helps when we've got COVID and all you can do is stay at home and look at the green grass."
The most bountiful recent season was 2011.
Track corporation general manager asset management Brian Green is warning motorists to be wary around the Benalla-Oaklands line.
"The last non-maintenance or track inspection train that ran on the Benalla-Oaklands railway line was in June 2019," Mr Green said.
"There can be up to five to 10 trains per week in operation on the line during grain harvest periods.
"Services run at irregular times in line with demand, so can be in operation at any time of day or night.
"That's why it's important community members always stick to the road rules and look and listen for trains."