Crop yield could defy trend

MARC SIMOJOKIAlbany Advertiser

Albany Port Zone could post a crop yield of up to 50 per cent above average this season, despite much of the State being hit by a record-dry June that has dealt a tough blow to WA’s northern port zones.

CBH Albany zone manager Greg Thornton said at this stage he estimated the zone would process 2.5 million tonnes of grain, but the quantity could be 3 million tonnes, depending on September rain.

Last year the zone processed 2 million tonnes, which was slightly below the 10-year annual average level of 2.1 million tonnes.

“It’s not set in stone and will likely change as the season progresses,” he said. “But we’ve had an excellent start and we’ve had some good rains in August.

“It looks as though frost will be the main worry, but hopefully we’ll get through that and get some good rains in September.”

Esperance Port Zone is also expecting an above-average season, while Kwinana and Geraldton port zones will likely record below-average yields after drier seasons.

CBH has forecast up to 10.8 million tonnes will be harvested across the State, slightly above the long-term average of 10.6 million tonnes and a significant change from predictions two weeks ago of a below-average season.

Emerald Grain southern regional manager Michael O’Dea said conditions in much of the Albany zone had been as good as growers could remember.

Mr O’Dea tipped possible record production throughout the southern zones if the current weather continued into October.

He said growers had been watching the volatility in the cereal and oil seed market closely.

“Although Chicago Board of Trade wheat prices have slid in recent months, the Australian dollar has underpinned wheat prices around the $300 free-in-store mark,” he said.

“Continued demand from China has supported the current wheat values.

“As for canola, growers are still waiting for prices to move upwards before committing more tonnage before harvest.”

Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Russ Clark said a good year for the region’s primary industry would have a flow-on effect in the local economy.

“A good season for the farmers augurs well not just for those businesses connected directly to agriculture, but also to other non-agricultural businesses in the region,” he said.

Mr Clark said after a couple of tough seasons it would be good to see an injection of money into the local economy.

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