Rain to dump extra $600m on Wheatbelt

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian

A leading WA grain trader believes solid rain to end the month could add up to a million tonnes to this season's harvest.

The boost could be worth about $300 million to the Wheatbelt.

Plum Grove founder Tony Smith said yesterday WA was on target for an 11.5 million-tonne harvest after big falls in the past few days, and more forecast.

His prediction is based on a "kind September" and marks a huge turnaround following forecasts as low as 9mt after record low rainfall in many parts of the Wheatbelt in June.

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Mr Smith said the falling Australian dollar was also a big boost for growers.

"Rainfall in June was the worst on record, July was average and August has been above average," he said.

"South of the Great Eastern Highway, in Corrigin, Hyden and those areas there are some of the best crops they have ever grown.

"I reckon we have had about $600 million put back into the industry because of the rain over the past two months."

Mr Smith said the rain had come too late in some districts but in cases where the crop had made it out of the ground, growers would salvage something.

CBH operations manager David Capper said the co-operative expected about 10.4mt to flow into its receival system.

Mr Capper said rain in the Geraldton zone and eastern Wheatbelt over the past few days would protect what crops there were but yield forecasts in those areas were well below average.

"In some districts the rain is by no means a saviour because the crops were just not there to start with," he said.

"It is a very mixed year across the Wheatbelt. It is a record season in the Esperance zone, a very good season in the Albany zone and very good in the southern part of Kwinana.

"But it is very poor east and north of Merredin and very poor north of Geraldton."

CBH is predicting a harvest of about 1.4mt in the Geraldton zone, a record yield of 2.4mt in the Esperance zone, between 2.5mt and 3mt for Albany and 4.1mt for the Kwinana zone.

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