Let the good times roll

Claire TyrrellCountryman

WA grain growers have started what could be the State's second-biggest harvest.

Opening the 2011-12 harvest was Yuna farmer Chris Johnson, who delivered the first load of canola to Geraldton last Friday.

Mr Johnson said he was very pleased with his Cobbler canola, which yielded two tonnes per hectare.

"Our average is 0.8t/ha, so we were really happy with it," he said.

"It won't all go like that, because we sowed that paddock early - April 20. We've got another 200ha of canola to pick up next week."

Farming at Ogilvie, Brad and Cath Cripps opened their harvest on Monday, also delivering Cobbler canola. It was yielding 1.5t/ha.

"If we average 1.5t/ha of canola, we'll be happy," Mr Cripps said.

"Our five-year average is 1t/ha and last year we got 0.68t/ha."

The Cripps will move into wheat next week, if the weather stays dry.

On the back of 385mm of growing season rainfall, they expect the wheat to yield about 3t/ha.

"The wheat has filled out really well, so we are optimistic," Mr Cripps said.

"The ground is still wet from last week's rain so we need a hot easterly to dry things out, then we will continue onto wheat."

CBH Geraldton zone manager Duncan Gray said an additional 431,000 tonnes of storage was available in the Geraldton zone for this harvest, bringing its capacity to 3.5 million tonnes.

CBH had also signed shipping agreements ahead of this year's anticipated three million tonne crop for the Geraldton zone.

"We built extra storage at Deepdale, Mingenew and Carnamah, and extended the bulkhead at Marchagee," Mr Gray said.

"We have also secured harvest shipping for November and December and some for the first half of January, so that will help a lot."

The Buntine bin will be closed after about 230,000 tonnes of carry-over grain was shifted there ahead of harvest. Pindar and Sullivan receival points will also be closed, but all others in the zone will be open.

By noon on Tuesday, 500 tonnes of canola from Ogilvie, Northampton and Chapman Valley had been delivered.

Mr Gray said most receival points northwards to a line from Mingenew and Canna would be open next week.

CBH general manager of operations Colin Tutt said the season could result in WA's second-biggest crop on record.

A total of 12.5 million tonnes of grain are expected to be delivered across WA this harvest. The previous State record was 14.7 million tonnes in 2003-04. In the same year, the Geraldton zone achieved its record of 2.6 million tonnes.

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