Fin­ish­ing rain proves saviour of the sea­son

Countryman - - NEWS - Melissa Wil­liams

A small amount of timely fin­ish­ing rain has gone a long way to sav­ing the sea­son in key crop­ping ar­eas of WA and pushed ex­pec­ta­tions of the State’s grain pro­duc­tion back up to 15.6 mil­lion tonnes.

This would put an ex­tra $150 mil­lion in the pock­ets of the State’s grow­ers on es­ti­mates of a month ago, de­spite be­ing be­hind Au­gust crop fore­casts of 18mt.

At cur­rent prices, a 15mt crop would de­liver about $6 bil­lion to WA’s econ­omy.

Re­leased last week, the lat­est pro­duc­tion es­ti­mates from CBH and the Grain In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of WA (GIWA) have risen 14 per cent from pre­vi­ous fore­casts of about 14mt.

In­dus­try play­ers said there was po­ten­tial for fur­ther up­side, as many grow­ers har­vest­ing in the north­ern and cen­tral grainbelt con­tin­ued to record higher ce­real yields than ex­pected.

GIWA ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber Michael La­mond said the pri­mary driv­ers of this were Oc­to­ber rain events dur­ing the crit­i­cal ce­real grain-fill pe­riod and cool spring tem­per­a­tures that thwarted po­ten­tial heat stress to plants.

“We now ex­pect WA’s wheat pro­duc­tion will reach 9.1mt, which is 11 per cent higher than the pre­vi­ous fore­cast of 8.1mt, and bar­ley should hit 3.9mt,” he said.

GIWA has pegged 2018-19 canola pro­duc­tion at 1.5mt, oats at 0.55mt, lupins at 0.6mt and pulses at 0.05mt.

Mr La­mond said the har­vest was in full swing in the Ger­ald­ton port zone and yields ap­peared to be about 10 per cent above ex­pecta- tions, with ce­re­als and lupins av­er­ag­ing about 3t/ha and canola about 1.5-1.8t/ha.

He said it was a sim­i­lar sce­nario in the cen­tral grainbelt as har­vest ramped up there, with ce­re­als yield­ing about 2.75-3.5t/ha and canola 1-2t/ha in eastern and western ar­eas re­spec­tively.

In Esper­ance, re­ports were bar­ley was yield­ing 2.5-2.7t/ha and canola 1.3-1.5t/ha. Al­though the Al­bany zone was yet to swing into full har­vest, Mr La­mond said yield po­ten­tial ap­peared ex­cep­tional for ce­re­als and av­er­age for canola, but dropped off in eastern ar­eas.

Un­for­tu­nately many grow­ers east of a line from Mo­rawa to Moora — and around the Lakes dis­tricts — missed the Oc­to­ber rains and the out­look was not as bright.

In the past week, iso­lated thun­der­storms had also played havoc with har­vest in parts of the State.

Some cen­tral and eastern grainbelt ar­eas re­ceived 20mm-30mm of rain and there was a grower re­port of 120mm be­ing tipped out of the gauge east of Hy­den.

Hail caused se­ri­ous crop losses on some prop­er­ties.

Mr La­mond said this lat­est turn in sea­sonal con­di­tions was un­likely to down­grade crop es­ti­mates or have a big im­pact on grain qual­ity.

To the start of this week, CBH had re­ceived 1.75mt of grain from WA grow­ers across the State, in­clud­ing 0.8mt in Ger­ald­ton, 0.8mt in Kwinana, 0.1mt in Esper­ance and 27,000t in Al­bany zones.

CBH gen­eral man­ager of op­er­a­tions David Cap­per said site de­lays at Moony­oonooka last week from big vol­umes be­ing de­liv­ered had been over­come, with turn­around times im­prov­ing this week.

He said in the past week, vol­umes be­ing de­liv­ered in the Ger­ald­ton zone had made up half of all grain re­ceived by CBH to date for the en­tire State.

Canola and bar­ley es­ti­mates had al­most been reached and there were re­ports of yields up to 5t/ha in some parts, he said.

Pic­ture: Ben Croth­swaite

Mullewa Com­mu­nity Farm held its third an­nual har­vest on Satur­day, yield­ing 2.5 tonnes of wheat per hectare.

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