Weather prompts early finish

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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A dry season east of Coorow has led to the harvest program at Koobabbie Farm being two weeks ahead of schedule and achieving surprisingly resilient yields across the 1400ha wheat cropping program.

Vern Muller runs the cropping program for Koobabbie Farm, owned by Alison Doley.

He said the farm had received just 214mm throughout the year, significantly lower than the 335mm average.

Wheat harvesting started last Thursday and so far has yielded between 1.5 and 2t/ha, only slightly below average.

And quality has been remarkably good with high protein of 16.5 per cent and very low screenings.

Smaller canola and lupin crops did nit fare so well during harvest after the lack of rain in the growing season.

The 140ha canola crop yielded just 0.28ha while the 90ha lupin crop yielded just 0.2ha, according to Mr Muller.

Also affecting the lupin crop were two hot days in September.

"We had a carpet of white flowers one day and it was gone the next due to the very hot weather," said Mr Muller, who has worked at Koobabbie since 1984.

"The flowers just sizzled on the very hot day, plus it dried out the soil."

Koobabbie was fortunate enough to avoid the hail and heavy rains in mid-October, receiving just 5mm which did not have a negative impact on the cropping program.

However two 15mm downpours n September caused wheat to reshoot.

Mr Muller said he was harvesting above this to ensure the green wheat was not included in the sample.

He said the early harvest resulted from the crops maturing earlier amid the lack of rain.

"We usually finish harvesting in December, but we'll be finished and have all the machinery cleaned and put away by end of November this year," he said.

Koobabbie Farm also runs 2400 Merino and crossbred breeding sheep, and 60 head of breeding cattle, and is considered an important conservation area in the northern Wheatbelt.

According to CBH, an early start to the State's harvest meant receivals were the highest on record for this time of year.

As of last Friday, CBH had received 1.5444 million tonnes, compared to 800,000 tonnes at the same time last year.

But continued weather patterns had resulted in a stop start harvest so far. For instance, some sites in the Geraldton port zone have been open for more than five weeks, but there have been few consecutive good harvesting days in that area.

CBH general manager of operations David Capper said the early break to the season will lead to an early finish in many areas.

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