Sun­shine gives rise to canola swathing

Countryman - - NEWS - Cally Dupe

Sunny con­di­tions have prompted some north­ern grow­ers to kick off their 201819 har­vest pro­gram, with canola swathing un­der way in parts of the Mid West.

Geraldton grower War­ren Trea­sure made a ten­ta­tive start to swathing on Sun­day, against a back­drop of sky-high wheat prices and a drier-thanaver­age Septem­ber.

The shin­ing light of grain pro­duc­tion in WA this year is the Geraldton Port Zone and parts of the Kwinana Port Zone, where some grow­ers say they are on track to har­vest above-av­er­age yields.

How­ever, grow­ers in the Lakes district and other pock­ets of WA are still reel­ing from a se­ries of dev­as­tat­ing frost events about three weeks ago.

In­dus­try has not set­tled on a fig­ure of just how much grain was dam­aged by the Septem­ber frosts, with best es­ti­mates at 500,000 tonnes and worst up to one mil­lion tonnes.

Grains In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of WA spokesman Michael La­mond said parts of the Geraldton Port Zone had started to swath canola af­ter a dry Septem­ber.

“It has been a dry Septem­ber, so it is a bit ear­lier than peo­ple were hop­ing,” he said.

“The next blast of warm weather will re­ally get things crank­ing off, but that could be an­other week or so.”

Light rain­fall dur­ing the past week capped off an un­usu­ally dry Septem­ber across most of the South West Land Di­vi­sion.

Bu­reau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy fig­ures showed the month’s rain­fall was “very much be­low av­er­age” at al­most all of WA’s grain-grow­ing ar­eas, scal­ing back in­dus­try har­vest es­ti­mates.

Mr La­mond said there was in­dus­try spec­u­la­tion the dry con­di­tions could down­grade WA’s grain har­vest to 14 mil­lion tonnes, down from ear­lier es­ti­mates of 16.3 mil­lion tonnes.

“Dry con­di­tions have taken the top off ...” he said.

“Wheat isn’t go­ing to yield as much as peo­ple were hop­ing.

“Re­cent rain­fall has helped a lot, most of the crops weren’t too far gone for it to still make a dif­fer­ence.

“But we have lost crops to the frost and weather has played a part in down­grad­ing their po­ten­tial.”

Geraldton farmer War­ren Trea­sure with Sar­mac and McTag­gart Ag co-owner Joel McTag­gart.

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