It’s been a long, long harvest

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Jo and Lance Clemens at their farm near Quairading.
Camera IconJo and Lance Clemens at their farm near Quairading. Credit: The Countryman, Cally Dupe

WA grain growers are scrambling to harvest paddocks well into the new year amid high yields which for some created an unexpectedly drawn-out process.

Harvesting was still taking place at farms in places such as Kendenup and Frankland River last week, with CBH not likely to see an end to grain deliveries until the end of the month.

A record 16.5 million tonnes of grain had been delivered to Co-operative Bulk Handling by 4pm Tuesday, surpassing the previous record of 15.86 million tonnes in 2013-14.

But, despite the record-breaking yield, some farmers will remember it as the season which “could have been”, after poor grain prices and devastating frosts.

Quairading farmers Jo and Lance Clemens delivered their last load of grain just before 5pm last Wednesday.

The couple tackled the recent harvest with the help of their 26-year-old daughter Natasha.

Mr Clemens said the year “started off wet” with the “perfect set- up for the perfect storm”, setting hopes high.

The family planted canola, barley, wheat and bass on their farm Kartanara, achieving yields of 2t/ha for wheat despite the farm’s significant frost damage.

Mr Clemens said the area’s 21 frost events was a number previously “unheard of” but had, at his farm, been balanced out by record yields in some areas.

“We have never had frost at our farm before, we didn’t know how bad it was going to be ... as the season went on, we started seeing patches go blacker and blacker,” he said.

“There were just black patches all over the district, that’s when we knew it was going to be bad. You watch your yield monitor (while harvesting) go from 10 tonne to zero, zero, zero, zero … in some spots it was more than just patches (of frost).”

Mr Clemens said looking forward the pair would this year plant more canola, less wheat and barley, and swing chickpeas and lupins into the program.

“We are just trying different things because there is so much wheat in the world,” he said.

Badgingarra farmer Cassandra Monks said she had only finished harvest after two months of work.

“We cropped canola, barley, lupins, and wheat,” she said.

“The lowest yield we had for the wheat was 2.5t/ha and the highest was 6t/ha.

“With the barley the highest was about 5t/ha.

“The lupins was the highest with 3t/ha.”

The Geraldton zone was still receiving about 500 tonnes of grain a day on Tuesday.

CBH estimated there was another 100,000 tonnes to be delivered across all districts by the end of January.

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