Cash crop a record

Countryman - - FRONT PAGE - Pic­ture: Michael Wil­son

A per­fect storm of good yields and high prices has de­liv­ered WA grain grow­ers their most valu­able crop ever. Ko­orda farm­ers Kurt and Kris­ten Fuchs­bich­ler, and kids Jo­van, 8, Ziggi, 14, Vashti, 10, and Luella, 4, are en­joy­ing the good times in agri­cul­ture.

WA grain grow­ers have cashed in on a per­fect storm of record prices and kind weather con­di­tions to de­liver their most valu­able crop ever, pump­ing about a record $6 bil­lion into the State’s econ­omy.

While this year’s WA grain crop is the se­cond-biggest, at more than 16 mil­lion tonnes, it is worth the most amount of money on the back of a se­vere drought in the east and boom­ing de­mand for feed grain to fill con­tract washouts.

In what some an­a­lysts have la­belled a once-in-a-life­time sit­u­a­tion, WA grow­ers have en­joyed pre­mi­ums of up to $120 above the Chicago Board of Trade and, in some cases, record-break­ing yields de­spite a rel­a­tively dry fin­ish and pock­ets of frost in some ar­eas.

The per­fect storm means the WA grain crop — which av­er­ages about $4 bil­lion in value — will be worth at least a record $6 bil­lion smash­ing the pre­vi­ous record of $5 bil­lion set in 2016-17.

Some in­dus­try an­a­lysts have suggested it could be worth as much as $7 mil­lion.

WA de­liv­ered its biggest crop ever in 2016-17, about 18 mil­lion tonnes, in­clud­ing grain de­liv­ered to other han­dlers and re­tained on farm. While this year’s crop is smaller, a 30 per cent price rise means it will be worth much more.

CBH mar­ket­ing and trad­ing gen­eral man­ager Ja­son Craig said wheat prices alone rose al­most $100 since seed­ing time in April.

By Tues­day, more than 16 mil­lion tonnes had been de­liv­ered to CBH. In­dus­try es­ti­mates a fur­ther one mil­lion tonnes is usu­ally stored on farm or sold else­where.

Mer­cardo com­mod­ity an­a­lyst An­drew Whitelaw said WA’s wheat crop alone would be worth more than $3 bil­lion.

“Nor­mally, if you have strong pre­mi­ums against the rest of the world, you don’t have a crop,” he said. “The chances of this hap­pen­ing area so slim that it is doubt­ful you would see a sit­u­a­tion like this more than a cou­ple of times in a life­time.”

Grain In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of WA crop re­port au­thor Michael La­mond said the Wheat­belt was the shin­ing light this har­vest.

But he said grow­ers in parts of the Lakes dis­trict con­tin­ued to bat­tle dry con­di­tions and had har­vested a below-av­er­age yields.

Kurt Fuchs­bich­ler, who farms near Ko­orda with his wife Kris­ten, has had his best ever har­vest.

“We sur­prised our­selves, we didn’t ex­pect to get the yields we did,” he said. “This is our best har­vest ever and co­in­cides per­fectly with the decile nine-10 pric­ing.”

WA Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan said the State’s farm­ers had sol­diered on through a “wildly un­pre­dictable sea­son”

She said the Gov­ern­ment was still mon­i­tor­ing dry con­di­tions in parts of WA’s south.

“We are lucky to have the dou­ble this year, not only high pro­duc­tion vol­umes, but strong prices, which will bring dol­lars into our re­gional towns,” Ms MacTier­nan said.

Pic­ture: Michael Wil­son

Kurt and Kris­ten Fuchs­bich­ler with chil­dren Vashti, 10, Jo­van, 8, Ziggi, 14, and Luella, 4.

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