Storms hamper harvest

Jo FulwoodCountryman
A total of 105mm of rain fell at Adam Millsteed’s east Konongorring farm, with 90mm of the total falling in just two hours.
Camera IconA total of 105mm of rain fell at Adam Millsteed’s east Konongorring farm, with 90mm of the total falling in just two hours.

Harvest came to a standstill on Sunday as widespread thunderstorms wreaked havoc across the grain-growing areas.

A total of 105mm fell at Adam Millsteed’s property at east Konongorring, with 90mm of that total falling in just two hours on Monday afternoon.

Mr Millsteed, who still has about 1000ha to harvest, said 10 minutes of hail wiped out at least 90ha of oats. “We have fences down, there is general flooding and we are still assessing the extent of the damage,” he said.

“It was all a bit random. It just came over the farm suddenly. I think we were just in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”

Mr Millsteed said another property 5km away received 22mm.

He said he was hopeful there was no damage to the standing crops.

“I don’t think it’s ruined. We should be able to get back on to most of it, but there are a few pockets laid down from flood damage,” he said. “We were hoping to be finished for Christmas, but I don’t think that’s going to happen now.”

Social media reports on Tuesday showed 71mm of rain fell at Darkan, 52mm at Cleary, 51mm at Cherry Tree Pool, 51mm at north-east Narembeen and 42mm at Harrismith.

Prior to the weekend thunderstorm, harvest was on the home stretch for many farmers.

CBH Kwinana zone manager Gavin Bignell said just over 5.7 million tonnes had been delivered for the zone so far.

He said barley and canola yields had exceeded expectations.

“Even though there has been some frost in the wheat, the quality of the deliveries has held up better than we thought,” he said.

Mr Bignell said more than a dozen receival sites had broken delivery records this season.

Further north, CBH Geraldton zone manager Duncan Gray said deliveries were slowing down as harvest wound up across the region.

“We hit the three million tonne mark on Monday and we’ve potentially got another 300,000 tonnes to go before the end of harvest,” Mr Gray said.

In Esperance, CBH zone manager Mick Daw estimated 90 per cent of the region’s growers had finished harvest.

“If anyone was still going, they would have been stopped by the rain on Sunday and Monday,” he said. “But we are on the homeward stretch now.”

Mr Daw said the predicted two million tonne delivery estimate for the region had been smashed, with 2.34 million tonnes already delivered.

In the Albany zone, CBH zone manager Greg Thornton said 2.2 million tonnes had been received out of an expected three million tonne harvest.

“There may be some quality issues in some areas because of the rain, particularly in the wheat,” he said.

Mr Thornton said while some farmers in the zone were starting to wind up harvest programs, others would still be going well into the new year.

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