Albany estimates point to production record

Jo FulwoodCountryman

Growers in the Albany zone could break a production record this harvest, with CBH predicting between 2.9 million and 3.2 million tonnes will be delivered into the system for the 2013-14 season.

The previous record was broken in 2011, when just over 3 million tonnes was delivered into the CBH system.

CBH estimates grain deliveries across the State could be up to 12.6 million tonnes, which is a dramatic increase on predictions only a month ago of between 9.5 million and 10.8 million tonnes.

This includes an estimated 1.5 million to 1.8 million tonnes from the Geraldton zone and 4.5 million to 4.8 million tonnes from Kwinana.

The long-term average across the State is 10.6 million tonnes.

Albany zone manager Greg Thornton said while there was still a few weeks of the frost window to get through, deliveries could even be higher than the predicted 3.2 million tonnes.

"The season has been pretty kind so far, and while we did have that dry spell in June and July, our August and September have been very good," Mr Thornton said, adding that harvest could be only a matter of weeks away for some growers in the eastern and south-eastern parts of the zone.

"Canola and barley will start in a few places in late October, particularly in Gardner, and the Hyden and Newdegate areas," he said.

"It's going to be a long harvest, but traditionally Albany has always had a long harvest anyway.

"We'll have people that won't get started till late November, particularly if it keeps raining."

Mr Thornton said since the bumper season in 2011, CBH had already built additional storage at a number of sites across the zone.

"We've built 80,000 tonnes of additional sealed storage at Gairdner and we've also built additional storage at Broomehill and Nyabing," he said.

"This year we are planning on establishing emergency storage at Cranbrook and Wellstead also."

Kojonup grower Roger House said he had received over 63 mm for September, with more predicted in coming days.

The average for his area for September is just under 50mm.

Mr House said while the crops looked fantastic, he would not be getting excited about the season until harvest time.

"It's September - I don't get too excited in September - I can get excited when I harvest the crop and I know what I've got," he said.

"I'm hoping for above-average yields but plenty can happen in the next few months, such as frost and a hot, dry day."

Mr House and his wife, Annabelle, farm 3600 hectares, with 1200ha in canola, wheat, barley and fodder oats.

They also run more than 16,000 sheep.

Mr Thornton said bin meetings would start next week in the Jerramungup and Borden areas.

"I'm happy to hear from any growers who are interested in deferred delivery option - whereby they hold the grain on-farm till the end of harvest," he said.

"Growers understand that it is a big year and CBH will be under pressure and that will have an impact on throughput and turn-around times at the bin.

"Over 400,000 tonnes has been booked in harvest shipping slots for Albany port which will keep grain moving to port for export."

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