Bins start to fill after a slow start

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeThe West Australian
Yuna farmers Nicole and Jason Batten.
Camera IconYuna farmers Nicole and Jason Batten. Credit: Justine Rowe

Cereal harvest is starting to pick up, with barley, wheat and lupins trickling into bins across the State’s four port zones.

More than 343,000 tonnes of grain had been delivered to CBH bins on Friday, with Esperance Port Zone still leading the charge at 258,000 tonnes, a whopping 200,000 tonnes of which was delivered last week, followed by Geraldton at 67,296 tonnes, Kwinana at 36,000 tonnes and Albany at 14,560 tonnes.

Mingenew growers Geoff and Fiona Cosgrove were busy harvesting canola this week after kicking off their program two weeks ago with barley.

With warm conditions and a 10,000ha program to complete, the couple has 2000ha under their belt and two headers rolling 24 hours a day.

“Last week, it was too hot and the canola was too fluffy, so we started driving at night, which is a bit unusual for us,” Mrs Cosgrove said.

“The barley was ready to go first ... the spring rains made a huge difference and we got quite lucky, the crops were still at the stage where they could use them.”

While yields have been below average, Mrs Cosgrove said they were better than expected with the best parts of the canola paddocks yielding well.

While canola made up the bulk of grain delivered to CBH bins in October, the co-operative’s latest harvest report showed farmers’ programs had started to expand.

North of Geraldton at Yuna, Nicole and Jason Batten had motored through a third of their reduced 4500ha program by the start of the week and were harvesting canola after starting wheat.

Mr Batten said he was amazed at his crops’ comeback after the worst hailstorm he had ever seen at his property occurred late in August.

“We are harvesting canola and almost all of it was affected by hail a few months ago,” he said.

“It came back well but it bruised some of the pods and knocked it around a bit.”

The bulk of the Battens’ program is Mace, Magenta and Calingiri wheat, with Spartacus barley and Bonito canola.

While harvest is steaming ahead across the Geraldton and Esperance port zones, deliveries have been slow at Albany with the lowest delivery tonnage by Friday. CBH Albany Zone manager Greg Thornton said cool conditions had slowed progress with 13,900 tonnes received last week.

He said deliveries were solely canola, averaging 46.6 per cent in oil content, with the exception of 330 tonnes of feed barley.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of grower samples and expect deliveries to increase over the next week,” Mr Thornton said.

CBH Kwinana Zone assistant manager Allan Walker said deliveries in his zone were expected to pick up as the weather warmed up this week.

At Beverley, grain farmer Duncan Young said he was watching the weather and hoped to start harvest next week.

“Moisture is still an issue around our area, it’s been a bit hit and miss with those late rains,” he said.

“We had about 7-8mm a week ago which has kept things damp.

“Cool conditions have meant things are not drying out as they would usually.”

The bumper harvest across the Esperance Port Zone had CBH considering extending its site opening hours last week. Esperance zone manager Mick Daw said deliveries had been slowed by cool conditions but site hours were expected to extend as volumes increased.

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