WA crop in the bin by Christmas Day

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In a season of contrasts, the WA crop is expected to be all done and dusted by Christmas Day.

CBH operations manager Max Johnson said that on Tuesday this week, 2.8 million tonnes of WA’s crop was in the bin, albeit a significantly reduced number of bins, with some 90-odd sites not opening this harvest.

“We are still hoping for 5.3–5.5 million tonnes, ” Mr Johnson said.

“Geraldton is almost finished, Kwinana is 50–60 per cent through but the Albany Zone hasn’t got going yet and Esperance is stalled by rain this week.”

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Mr Johnson said quality had been better than anticipated, with about 50 per cent of the wheat coming in with under the 5 per cent screenings mark to make milling grades, another 25–30 per cent was just over the 5 per cent mark.

About 35 per cent of the barley was making malt, down on other years where the split between malt and feed was closer to 50:50, while 85 per cent of canola was making the number one grade, CAN1.

Yields have been a very mixed bag. Some have spent two days trying to scrape up 30 tonnes, but there has also been some good reports, with one farmer in the Geraldton zone saying his best wheat paddock will yield 2.4 tonnes a hectare.

Mr Johnson said by the end of the first week in December, 85–90 per cent of the crop was expected to be in and by Christmas it would be all over for another year.

In the Geraldton zone, area manager Duncan Gray said an estimated 75 per cent, or 1.1 million tonnes, of the zone’s forecast production had been delivered.

“We have been fortunate to have had little disruption from the weather this year and we will be starting to close bins soon as growers finish harvesting, ” he said.

“Yuna and Binnu will be the first to close this week and more will follow over the coming fortnight. We would expect the harvest in the Geraldton zone to be all but over by the second week in December.”

Harvest in the Kwinana zone accelerated last week, however, up to 25mm of rain and hail on Sunday night has damaged standing crops, with the areas north of Koorda and Cadoux among the worst hit.

Kwinana zone manager Brett Jeffrey said some farmers estimated they had lost 50 per cent or more of their remaining crop as a result of the hail.

“If it wasn’t for the rain, we probably would have seen daily receivals peak on Monday at around 100,000 tonnes, ” Mr Jeffrey said.

Across the Kwinana zone, about 80 per cent of the canola crop and 80–90 per cent of the barley crop has now been delivered. The quality of the crop remains mixed, with a significantly lower portion of barley making malt grade compared with an average season.

CBH Albany zone manager Greg Thornton said many growers in the north of the zone were into wheat.

“The quality of wheat received continues to be good, particularly with high protein and a number of H1 segregations have been introduced to allow growers to capture higher returns, ” Mr Thornton said.

“Barley quality in the southern areas of the zone has also been good with more grain being received into malting segregations than initially anticipated.”

Due to the low volume of grain being received, the Hindmarsh segregation on offer at the Ballaying receival point is now a “by arrangement” service and growers are reminded to contact the Katanning office to arrange delivery times.

By the start of this week, Esperance zone growers had delivered to 462,000 tonnes, or one third of the total expected to be delivered this season.

Zone manager Mick Daw said most of the grain harvested to date was canola and barley, but wheat was coming in.

“The proportion of barley making malt has improved significantly in the past week as harvesting has started closer to the coast where crops got more rainfall, ” he said.

The Esperance zone is on track to receive 1.5 million tonnes this harvest, matching total receivals in the zone last year.

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