CBH prepares for record tonnage

Corrina RidgwayCountryman

CBH has pulled out all stops to prepare for record-breaking tonnage expectations in the Esperance port zone this harvest.

CBH Esperance zone manager Mick Daw has estimated harvest tonnage receivals will reach a whopping 2.4 million to 2.8 million tonnes.

"We usually average about 1.6 million tonnes a season. It's has been very consistent over the past 10 years - this year is completely out of the box," Mr Daw said.

He said the previous record for the zone is 2.1 million tonnes set in the 2003-2004 season.

Although CBH has methods in place to address the size of this season's harvest, it is unsure whether the large volume will be manageable. "Will we handle it? Maybe not," Mr Daw said.

With crops looking even across the zone, several receival points have added extra storage handling facilities before the harvest onslaught.

"We have added a 60,000-tonne bulkhead in Beaumont, an extra 30,000-tonne bulkhead at Cascade, upgraded a 25,000 tonne bulkhead at Salmon Gums and added extra 100,000-tonne storage at Chadwick, Esperance," Mr Daw said.

With storage in such high demand, the Shark Lake receival point near Gibson is also set to be in full swing this season. CBH also has been looking into harvest shipping in an effort to ease pressure on receival points.

"We are looking at quite a lot of harvest shipping through the port," Mr Daw said.

"CBH will also be working closely with larger producers during harvest to secure on-farm storage, in a mix of grain bags and on pads."

Harvest in the zone is predicted to start in early to mid-October as the first canola rolls in. CBH expects to be in full swing by mid-October. The dominant segregation will be for Hindmarsh feed barley.

"We will have some Hindmarsh malt segregations at particular bins as well," Mr Daw said.

"We are expecting protein in wheat to be lower this year due to such a good growing season."

Tonnages are expected to be consistent across the zone and across varieties, according to Landmark agronomist Andrew Heinrich.

"Anywhere 30km north of the coast is looking phenomenal," he said.

"Mace wheat, Hindmarsh and Bass barley and various strains of canola have performed extremely well."

A lack of insects during the season has also been surprising.

"There were a few aphids in cereal, diamondback moth though has been a non-event," Mr Heinrich said.

"We were expecting high levels but they haven't eventuated, because the cold wet weather knocked them around sufficiently."

With most obstacles overcome, growers will be relying on kind weather to hold through to harvest.

"If it's too wet or too hot in the coming weeks, it will affect everybody," Mr Heinrich said.

"Stem frost could be an issue - we are past the flowering frost window for most areas but it will be three weeks until growers are truly out of the woods."

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