Harvest ramps up in Albany

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

Harvest has finally ramped up across the Albany port zone after a month interrupted by weather.

In just one week, 320,000 tonnes has been delivered to CBH receival sites across the region, equating to more than 70 per cent of total deliveries.

The first delivery of canola was delivered to the Gairdner receival site on October 16, but harvest has been a stop-start affair.

CBH Albany Port Zone manager Greg Thornton said farmers throughout the region had had to contend with numerous weather events.

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He said the early deliveries in the zone were continuing the trend of earlier starts to harvest in recent years.

He said despite the poor seasonal finish to crops in the region, he was anticipating 2.5 million tonnes of grain would comes into the CBH system.

Mr Thornton said yields from some parts of the zone were meeting, and even exceeding, expectations.

"There is a patch through Darkan, Duranillin, Bokal, Wagin and even into the Shire of Kojonup that is seeing significantly lower yields because of a lack of rain, but in some other areas the crops are going better than even we anticipated," he said.

"Last week, we had a very good week, with 320,000 tonnes delivered out of the total received so far of over 450,000 tonnes."

Mr Thornton said early delivered canola had been of good quality with oil content in the mid-40 per cent range.

He said quality in barley and oats had been down on previous years, mainly because of a lack of rain in September and October.

He said much of the barley tonnage received early was downgraded because of high screenings.

"As a result, we have introduced a number of Malt2 segregations to accommodate this," he said.

"As more barley is harvested further south, the percentage of malt is increasing."

CBH head of trading Trevor Lucas said deliveries to the Malt2 segregation were mostly bound for the Chinese market.

"The Chinese market has a number of barley segments and the lower grade malt barley is a large part of this," he said.

"For us, it's about meeting that market and having something of that grade available to them."

Mr Lucas said high screenings in barley deliveries were a consistent issue across Southern Australia this harvest.

He said Malt2 prices were about a $15-20/t discount from Malt1, but Malt2 deliveries achieved a $10-$15 premium over feed.

"Depending on how bad the quality is in these segregations, we would also look at cleaning the grain, just like a grower would," he said.

"We will consider our options once we see the quality delivered."

Mr Lucas said given the high screenings in barley across WA, South Australia and Victoria, domestic buyers may also have to consider purchasing from Malt2 segregations.

Mr Thornton said some growers, particularly in the eastern parts of the zone, were now into their wheat paddocks to reduce standing crop risk, and to beat the weather.

He said out loading had begun from the port, with the first shipments of grain leaving this week, destined for Kuwait.

"Vessels over the next two weeks will go into Saudi Arabia and Europe," he said.

Mr Thornton said if growers had a dry run over the next few weeks, most of the harvest in the zone would be wrapped early in the new year.

Across the State, more than 4.3 million tonnes have been received into the entire CBH receival system.

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