WA harvest could hit 17mt

Jenne BrammerCountryman
Email Jenne Brammer
At Warralakin, 42mm in the rain gauge was welcomed by Ben Farina.
Camera IconAt Warralakin, 42mm in the rain gauge was welcomed by Ben Farina. Credit: Countryman

Good rains over the past week continued to bolster farmers’ hopes for a record-breaking harvest.

The Grains Industry Association of WA is now forecasting a 17.252million-tonne 2016 crop, while CBH has forecast more than 16 million tonnes.

Provided these forecasts eventuate, the 2016-17 harvest would exceed WA’s previous record of 15.8 million tonnes received during 2013-14.

In the northern areas, which initially had a dry start, Northampton received 55mm over the past week until Tuesday morning, while Mullewa received 47mm and Yuna 42mm.

Elders agronomist and secretary of the Yuna Farm Improvement Group Belinda Eastough said last week’s downpours were critical to crops in the area, where the season had gotten off to a late start.

North of Yuna, at Balla, some farmers had received about 46mm in the past week, she said.

“This latest rain has alleviated a lot of pressure in the area as we received very little rain early on and have since mainly had small steady falls of around 5-7mm in most weeks so far,” she said.

“These rains have significantly increased the subsoil moisture in the area and helped shore up our July.

“Provided we get average rainfall during August, farmers are on track for an average year and so are feeling quite happy.”

Meanwhile, the eastern Wheatbelt continued its good run. To Tuesday morning, Wialki received 33mm, Southern Cross 40mm, Mukinbudin 21mm, Westonia 15mm and Narembeen 24mm.

For Ben Farina, of Warralakin, seeing 42mm in the rain gauge was the perfect homecoming gift after he last week returned from a year of travelling in Europe.

Ben, who will resume farming with his brother Dane, said between 25-42mm fell across the 7000ha cropping program in the past week, the most generous rainfalls being on their northern properties.

Last week’s downpour brought the brothers’ total to 170mm for the growing season, far above their usual rainfall at this time of year.

“The crops are looking outstanding, but we’re very conscious there’s still a long way to go until the end of the season,” Mr Farina said.

The Grains Industry Association of WA’s July Crop Report said the general consensus now was that because of current soil moisture levels across the grainbelt, with average rainfall for the rest of the season a record crop could be expected.

GIWA crop report author Alan Meldrum said crop growth in all port zones was advanced and well ahead of normal growth for mid winter.

“Plant health is generally excellent with growers alert to the yield potential currently seen in the paddock and therefore quick to implement any crop protection measures to help protect yield potential.”

He said disease and pests remained the most immediate threat to yields, with the prospect of August and September frosts being the next concern for growers.

While most farmers were rejoicing at the abundant rains, there had been too much in some areas.

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