Winter grain crop at seven-year low

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Cally DupeCountryman
Grain Industry Association of WA released its latest crop figures on Monday.
Camera IconGrain Industry Association of WA released its latest crop figures on Monday. Credit: Danella Bevis/Countryman

WA has officially produced its smallest winter grain crop in nearly a decade, with stifled yields averaging between 440kg and 2.35 tonnes per hectare last harvest.

A combination of extreme dry weather and damaging frost led to WA reaping an 11.29 million tonne harvest, the smallest since the 7 million-tonne 2012-13 harvest

The Grain Industry Association of WA released the figures on Monday, but report author Michael Lamond urged “perspective”.

“About 10-15 years ago, 12 million tonnes was a good year,” he said.

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“Whereas the last eight years the average was about 15 million tonnes.

“We have a new average of new tonnes, with more area going to crop, better technology and better farming practices.”

Croppers across the State had a mixed bag of harvest results, which Mr Lamond said ranged from “one extreme to the other” irrespective of farm location.

In the north of the State, yields were between 50 and 70 per cent below the 2018 crops — except oats, which fared reasonably well.

In the State’s southern grain growing areas, a severe frost followed by hot, windy conditions resulted in unprecedented production loss for some growers.

On the south coast, some growers had their “best ever” season due to a lack of waterlogging, while others had their “worst ever result” due to drought and frost.

In traditionally higher rainfall regions of the South West, yields were spectacular and quality excellent, with some regions returning their highest whole-paddock grain yields ever.

“The lack of price spread for protein reinforced the message to mostly ‘grow for yield’,” Mr Lamond said.

Good weed control has been touted as a “stand-out” of 2019, caused by growers loading up on pre-emergent herbicides after the second year in a row without a knockdown spray.

Mr Lamond said grain quality was “all over the place”, with some growers delivering into more segregations than ever before due to the range in protein and screenings.

Tough seasonal conditions across WA led to a seven million-tonne fall in receivals by CBH, at 9.7 million tonnes, down from 16.4 million tonnes the year before.

This means 1.59 million tonnes was delivered outside of the CBH system, a slight increase on the 1.5 million tonnes GIWA estimates is delivered elsewhere each year.

Crop yields varied across WA, from lows of 0.4t/ha for canola in the Geraldton Port Zone to highs of 2.35t/ha in the Albany Port Zone.

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