Higher grade hope in falling numbers

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Grain handler and marketer CBH is urging growers to put their grain through falling numbers tests to maximise the chances of it being graded as milling.

CBH Geraldton zone manager Duncan Gray said extra falling number test units had been installed in the zone this harvest to improve the flow of traffic through sample sites.

"Quality is fairly good at the moment but there's no doubt this recent rain would have affected some of the quality," he said.

Geraldton-based agronomist Peter Norris said that some early maturing wheat varieties susceptible to sprouting had low falling numbers.

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"The main challenges are in some of the more susceptible varieties in coastal areas but most of the wheat is going through as milling grade," he said.

Mr Norris said Wyalkatchem wheat in Northampton had been downgraded to General Purpose.

Corrigin farmer Simon Wallwork said his wheat was still too green to suffer sprouting but his barley was affected by heavy falls last week.

"We had between 30mm and 70mm over five days (Thursday to Monday)," he said.

"I haven't found any sprouted grain yet but I think our crops are a bit less advanced. Colour is a problem in our barley, which has been downgraded to malt."

Mr Wallwork, also an agronomist, said growers in Cunderdin and Bonnie Rock expressed concerns about sprouted grain.

Mullewa farmer Glenn Thomas said he had received 8-10mm since last Thursday, on top of 40mm in October.

Mr Thomas said his wheat quality had not suffered greatly but he was concerned about more rainfall.

"We've harvested 850 hectares of wheat and have been pulled up for a few sprouted grains but falling numbers have been OK," he said.

Mr Thomas said protein levels were low in some of his early sown wheat and about half of what had been harvested was downgraded to Australian Standard White.

CBH business relationship manager Claire Sullivan said high-grade wheat could be scarce this harvest.

"There are not many higher grades around at the moment," she said.

Ms Sullivan said Australian Premium Wheat attracted $235 a tonne compared to General Purpose at $200 a tonne. High protein varieties such as Australian Hard were priced at more than $260 a tonne.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast light falls across the agricultural region for the rest of the week but wet weather should dissipate in coming weeks.

There was no respite for growers in the Great Southern earlier this week when hail hit crops around Katanning on Tuesday and another 20mm fell overnight on Monday.

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