Bumper harvest makes State’s farmers smile
It has been a slow and staggered start to the WA grain harvest but early results are smashing expectations.
At Ballidu, 200km north of Perth, Corey Mincherton started harvesting barley on Wednesday.
He was expecting — and would have been happy — with yields of 2.5-2.8 tonnes/ha but the first 100ha harvested has surprised him by delivering an impressive 3.5 tonnes/ha.
Mr Mincherton said although this represented just a fraction of his total 5400ha program, he hoped the good return meant the rest of his crop could achieve better than expected results.
Like most farmers across the State, Mr Mincherton’s hopes were high throughout the growing season because of nearperfect conditions
Those hopes looked lost after frost and a lack of important finishing rains in September.
Mr Mincherton’s fortunes changed on the last day of September when rain finally arrived.
“It seems those rains at the end of September and early October did a lot more good than we initially thought,” he said.
“And while we weren’t as badly affected by frosts as farmers further south, we did get a touch and even that damage does not look to be as bad as it first appeared.”
Grain Industry Association of WA spokesman Michael Lamond said there were reports from farmers in the Geraldton Port zone of crops yielding about 10 per cent better than expected.
He said barley harvesting in some eastern areas had disappointed but farmers expected wheat could produce better results.
Co-operative Bulk Handling said yesterday about 350,000 tonnes of what growers expected could be a harvest of at least 15 million tonnes has been delivered.
CBH general manager of operations David Capper said there had been a later start to the harvest than most years because crops were maturing inconsistently.
Grain prices are at recent record levels, driven partly by the Eastern States drought.
A 15-million tonne crop would be worth $6 billion to the WA economy at current prices.
Olivia and Cory Mincherton with children Heidi, 8, and Caleb, 10, on their Ballidu farm.
Corey Mincherton at his farm in Ballidu.