Esperance receivals defy odds

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

In a harvest season of devastating fires, early rain and hail, Esperance zone farmers have delivered a record tonnage of 2.667 million tonnes into the CBH system.

Just trumping the 2013-14 total deliveries of 2.6 million tonnes, growers have overcome significant hurdles to produce the region's largest ever crop, CBH Esperance zone manager Mick Daw said.

The Esperance port terminal site of Chadwick also achieved a record 1.206 million tonnes, just under half of the zone's total receivals, signalling that growers are seeing financial benefits in delivering to larger super sites.

Mr Daw said the port site was originally opened in 1997, and up until this year, had never received more than a million tonnes in a season.

"It's interesting to see how our production has grown over the years," he said.

"In fact, in the drought in the early 2000s, the entire zone received less than half of the deliveries that we now see coming into the Chadwick port site."

Mr Daw said growers appeared to see the advantages of delivering directly to the Esperance Port.

"It's a win-win situation. We can have more segregations in a large site, plus longer delivery hours and it allows us to get better utilisation of our assets and therefore provide better service to growers," he said.

"It also means loading the grain on to the ship is easier directly from the port site than an up-country site."

Mr Daw said a large amount of the Esperance region crop was produced in a 100km radius around the Chadwick port site.

He said as with other port zones, Esperance growers were faced with a particularly difficult harvest season this year, with early rain and hail wiping tonnes from a predicted three-million-tonne crop.

"There was rain in November which slowed things up for a week, and hail in the Lakes district, which we have estimated wiped 30-40,000 tonnes from the total," Mr Daw said.

"However, after that rain, we were fortunate and had a reasonably dry harvest, which is probably unusual for our region."

But he said the destructive Esperance fires, coupled with strong winds saw up to 500,000 tonnes wiped from the total crop in the region.

"So to still receive over 2.6 million tonnes into the system, and achieve this record, well yes, we are extremely fortunate," Mr Daw said.

"I think most growers would be happy with their production and the crop that they ended up getting into the bin."

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