WA harvest under way

Trin SucklingThe West Australian

WA's first deliveries of grain were made to CBH's Geraldton Port depot last week, as Mid West farmers begin the 2015 harvest.

CBH's Geraldton zone manager Duncan Gray has welcomed the staggered start and estimated deliveries to be at 350 tonnes, as of Tuesday.

"Grain has come from the Northampton area, and Yuna farmers have delivered a load," he said.

"We've also seen quite a few canola samples being taken at Binnu and Yuna."

The Geraldton zone is expected to take delivery of 2.4 to 2.5 million tonnes, which Mr Gray said was slightly above average.

"This is because farmers in the north to north-east are expecting good years," he said. "The southern part of the zone south of Carnamah is also having a potentially fantastic season, although as we know we won't know exact details until farmers actually start harvesting.

"Farmers who have missed out this year are those on the coastal strip reaching from Horrocks through to Eneabba; keeping in mind six weeks ago some farmers were looking at very below average seasons and it has actually picked up a little."

In what Mr Gray said was an early start to harvest, Northampton farmer Karl Suckling's family made the first canola delivery for WA.

"Last year we started a bit earlier but it was a train wreck because of the hot August," Mr Suckling said.

"This year we have started earlier because the crops were planted earlier and they have managed to do their thing in a timely manner.

"The dry spells back at the beginning of winter and the hotter winter conditions pushed the crop through its early development, hence it has finished a lot earlier."

With cropping properties in Horrocks, Port Gregory and Ogilvie, the Suckling family have traditionally begun harvest inland. However, this year there has been a role reversal with the family beginning the harvest on their coastal properties.

"This year the coastal farms have really felt the pinch without winter rainfall to fill soil profiles, so they have finished off earlier and don't have the yield potential we are hoping for at our home farm," he said.

With a total cropping program of 6900ha - canola makes up 1650ha, lupins 1100ha and the remainder is wheat - Mr Suckling does not expect to halt the harvest and wait for crops to ripen.

The Sucklings' first deliveries of canola have recorded high grain quality which Mr Suckling attributes to the finish of the season.

Josh Carson began harvest on his family's Binnu property this week, making the first delivery to Geraldton on Wednesday.

"The canola we're harvesting at the moment, we sprayed out about 10 days ago. My dad only just sprayed out the rest of it so we will harvest this paddock and wait for the rest to turn and get back into it again then," he said.

"We're pretty happy with our yield outcomes at this stage; we are noticing a difference moving between soil types, anything sand over gravel has been going extremely well."

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