Rain a dampener on quality: CBH

Corrina RidgwayCountryman

Talk of bogged harvesters and wallowing road trains north and west of Esperance made the rounds as widespread thunderstorms in the past fortnight saturated paddocks.

Falls averaging 30mm, and in some instances more than 60mm, were recorded on properties on November 4 and 5.

With most growers having made a start or ready to strike the first blow, the entire region was brought to standstill at the weekend because of the inclement weather.

CBH terminals throughout the region, including Beaumont and Cascades, were closed over on November 5 and 6.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


CBH Esperance Zone manager Mick Daw said expected tonnages for the year were down.

"We are expecting a below average year with an estimated 1.4 million tonnes for the region," he said

Hail events have caused further marked losses in expected tonnage, although how much is yet to be revealed.

"Quite a lot of peas appear to have been frost-affected as well," Mr Daw said.

There are some positives.

"The coastal areas this year are stronger, from Munglinup and Cascades to Esperance. The lakes are also looking OK although we haven't had much in from the area yet," Mick said.

"The unusual thing about this season is that we are receiving everything at once, variety wise."

This is considered to be due to the dry season in some areas forcing early crop maturation, as well as current volatile harvest weather forcing growers reap and deliver whatever is ripe immediately.

Quality and weather patterns are a concern with sprouting incidences in wheat reported in north Beaumont and north Cascades, according to Farm and General senior agronomist Andrew Heinrich.

"Anywhere wheat has stressed and matured earlier, it has been adversely affected by recent rains, and will continue to be affected," he said.

Staining in barley is resulting in downgrades to feed as well.

Darren Inkster, of Sparkle Hill Farms 120km east of Esperance in Beaumont, was expecting to start harvesting his 800 hectares of canola rows today, depending on the weather. All up he has in 2400ha, including 740ha of wheat, 662ha of barley and 125ha of lupins.

Since the first of the crop was sown on May 28, about 290mm was recorded to the end of October with a further 46mm to Monday for November.

"The wheat is still green, but the barley is now all but ready to go," he said.

"There is green in the barley as it has reshot from the base from these late rains, but it isn't too bad. We don't want anymore though."

He expects some loss of quality because of staining downgrading malting to feed barley although other varieties, including wheat, seem to have held up well.

"Wheat and barley yields should be around 3 to 3.5 tonne/ha which is about average, possibly a bit above. Canola won't be as good, we didn't have rain in August and plants dropped a lot of flower," he said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails