Canola kicks off harvest

Brad Thompson andJenne BrammerCountryman

The 2016 harvest is under way.

CBH has reported the first load of canola (46 tonnes), grown by the Dempster family, was delivered at Carnamah on Monday afternoon.

It heralds the start of a busy harvest period, as the weather starts to warm up in the next few months, with other growers busy swathing their crops in preparation.

The grain is set to come in with a rush once the Wheatbelt dries out.

Contractor Neil Preston was among those in the thick of the action, swathing canola between Geraldton and Mingenew on the weekend.

Mr Preston, who farms at Cranbrook, travels north at this time each year, then works his way south swathing the oilseed.

He said the canola crops were the best he had seen in the north. “What I did see travelling up through the State were a lot of solid-looking crops,” he said.

“We usually start swathing up here around the long weekend, but it will be a later start to harvest for cereals because it has been a mild year.”

Wheat and barley crops have plenty of growing to do, with CBH still predicting a record harvest is within reach despite reports of frost damage.

CBH expects to receive 15-17 million tonnes of grain. Non-CBH storage and handling systems will receive about 1mt.

CBH Geraldton zone manager Duncan Gray said the first canola would come in next week.

In the past two years, first loads came in mid-September.

“It doesn’t take long for the crop to start turning when we get warm weather,” he said.

“Let’s just hope the rain does stop at some point in time.”

Mr Gray said he was not sure if it had been an unusual growing season or just a return to what was once considered a normal winter and start to spring.

“Every year is different and this year is probably back to an old-fashioned winter,” he said.

“We don’t want more rain now because it will start to deteriorate the quality of the crop.”

CBH is tipping receivals of 3.2mt in the Geraldton zone, where growers produced a record 3.56mt crop in 2011-12.

Mr Preston said his Cranbrook farm, which is in the Albany port zone, would produce average or below- average crops because of too much rain.

If rain stays away during harvest, the crop will come in faster than ever before because of a big investment in machinery since CBH handled a record 15.9mt in 2013-14.

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