December 13, 2012
CBH won’t downgrade its harvest estimate despite last week’s string of wet and wild weather throughout much of the State’s grain growing region. Late last week CBH grain operations manager David Capper told Farm Weekly WA’s harvest should still fall between the 8.5 and nine million tonne bracket. He predicted 8.7mt but his true harvest outlook became clear when asked which areas had been most significantly affected by the recent bad weather. “It would be a lot easier to tell you which ones hadn’t,” he said. Mr Capper said heavy rain and stormy weather experienced throughout the State last Tuesday night and Wednesday was the third or fourth significant harvest rain event for most grain-growing regions. But there were also a number of regions where growers counted themselves lucky to have largely missed out on the untimely weather. Mr Capper said growers in CBH’s north Geraldton and east Esperance zones had mainly finished harvest for the season so their programs were unaffected by the rains. He also pointed to area 10, which included Borden, Jerramungup and Gairdner, in the central Albany zone. “Relative to the amount of rainfall received in other parts of the State, this tiny pocket largely missed out on the heavy rain, which is quite unusual because it’s usually prone to harvest rainfall,” Mr Capper said. “Everywhere else pretty much copped it.” He said although the storms – which produced up to 200mm of rainfall in parts and were known to have flattened crops, washed away paddocks and caused some stock loss at Tambellup – wouldn’t necessarily mean a huge downward revision of delivered tonnes for CBH. But it did prompt CBH to dispatch every one of its 100-odd Falling Numbers machines throughout the Wheatbelt and Great Southern. “The aim from here on in is to protect as much value within the State’s crop as possible,” Mr Capper said. “Unfortunately we’re starting to see some significant quality damage to wheat crops in the areas which experienced significant rains. “The only upside is growers aren’t at the start of their harvests like they were when this happened last year. “Last year growers kick-started the season experiencing Falling Numbers but now we’re about 70 per cent of the way through harvest and because of that CBH has already secured a volume of good grain in its stack.” Before last week’s storms the Grain Industry of WA (GIWA) indicated overall grain quality had been very good. Wheat deliveries had shown high protein and low screenings while about 50pc of the State’s barley had achieved Malt grades. The results have been remarkable given the harvest was a stop-start affair last month due to moisture levels. But now GIWA’s outlook had started to align more closely with CBH’s, with the impact of rain on grain quality starting to become apparent as wheat crops in the central and mid-north regions were rained on for the fourth time since the start of November. “Falling Numbers in wheat and barley colour are likely to become significant grain quality problems for the remainder of harvest,” GIWA’s latest crop report said. “In southern regions the prospects for good to excellent grain quality remains high, provided fine weather is experienced for the remainder of harvest.” Recent Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) figures also showed that rainfall figures during November were above average through most of the South West Land Division (SWLD), particularly in northern and eastern parts where a number of sites, many with more than 100 years of observation records, observed their wettest November on record. Averaged throughout the Lower South West, November rainfall was above average and in the highest 10pc of observations. For the SWLD, average rainfall for November was the third highest on record, while averaged throughout the State, November rainfall ranked as the 11th highest on record. Isolated storms and wet and wild weather had also had an impact on harvest in the Eastern States in recent weeks. Late last week about 7.3 million tonnes of grain had been delivered to GrainCorp delivery sites in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. Harvest was all but finished in the Moree-Narrabri zone while the Liverpool Plains was still about three-quarters of the way through. Isolated storms and rainfall in the area meant minor delays but according to GrainCorp, most of the grain produced and delivered had been of a sound quality. GrainCorp predicted the fine outlook would also see a last major push from southern NSW growers to wrap up their harvests. Surprisingly, hail in the area around Young was also tipped to have had a limited impact on yield in the area. The Victorian harvest was also about halfway complete, with the Mallee close to wrapping up for another season. Rainfall in the last few days was predominantly in the central and southern areas with no substantial quality impact expected, unlike the situation in WA.