There’s 13 million WA tonnes in the bin

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WAFarmers says farmers are largely very happy with harvest yields.
Camera IconWAFarmers says farmers are largely very happy with harvest yields. Credit: Morris Trimming

Grain receivals from the WA harvest have hit 13 million tonnes with some of CBH’s busiest bins quietening as harvest programs end.

After two weeks of peak receivals at CBH sites across WA, last week was a quieter week for Australia’s biggest grain handler with the bulk of the crop now in the bin.

Grain Industry Association of WA expects the State to deliver a 16.8 million tonne harvest, including grain stored on-farm, well above average but just short of the 18 million tonne record in 2016.

CBH operations general manager David Capper said road and rail were under pressure to move grain to port to meet a demanding summer shipping program.

He said the organisation’s summer shipping program was fully booked for all of December and the first half of January.

“We have been seeing good tonnages in all zones during the last two weeks,” he said. “The Kwinana Port Zone is on track for a potentially record-breaking harvest.

“We built one million tonnes of emergency storage at several strategic sites before harvest, which have been well utilised.”

Watheroo mixed farmer Brad Millsteed wrapped up his 1500ha harvest program last Saturday, labelling it a “very pleasing year”.

He said the good harvest was welcomed after a tough 2017 in which “Watheroo was on the South West corner of some very heartbreaking times”, caused by a severe lack of rainfall.

“Years like this one are easy, if you want to do something, you do it,” he said.

“As much as the tough years are tough, financially, emotionally and physically, they do make you a better farmer. It was a great year to be in crop, between wool, meat and grain — fibre, food and frothies — it’s good.”

WAFarmers grain section president Duncan Young, who farms at York, said farmers were largely very happy with harvest yields.

“Grain prices have made things very good for growers,” he said. “Certainly in some areas that were frosted, yields are a little bit better than originally expected.”

Mr Capper said it had been a stop-start harvest in the Esperance and Albany Port Zones due to wet weather, with rainfall temporarily closing sites.

GrainGrowers WA regional coordinator Alan Meldrum said rainy weather had frustrated growers in the south, particularly after a dry September lowered protein levels and limited potential.

“Growers are feeling good about prices overall and most are feeling good about yields, they just need to get the crop off and in the bins,” he said.

Esperance Port Zone manager Mick Daw said CBH would start to close bins during the next couple of weeks after closing Dunn Rock, 60km north-east of Ravensthorpe, last week.

Barley grain quality has been good in the Albany Port Zone, with half of the million tonnes delivered so far making malt grades.

Albany Port Zone manager Greg Thornton said wheat protein had exceeded earlier expectations, but some deliveries had been downgraded due to harvest rain.

It’s been a good season in the Geraldton Port Zone, where three million tonnes of grain has poured into bins — far higher than the 2.5 million tonne estimate at the start of harvest.

Geraldton Port Zone manager Duncan Gray said there had been some pressure and frustration at some sites, due to available storage space.

CBH grain receivals (by Dec 13)

  • Albany 1.8 million tonnes
  • Esperance 1.8 million tonnes
  • Geraldton 3 million tonnes
  • Kwinana 6.3 million tonnes
  • Total 13 million tonnes

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