Farmers praised as Great Southern set to post biggest grain haul in year’s after ‘remarkable’ harvest

Liam CroyAlbany Advertiser
Headers unloading grain during harvest in Manypeaks.
Camera IconHeaders unloading grain during harvest in Manypeaks. Credit: Shannon Smith

Great Southern farmers are expected to produce their biggest grain haul in years as part of a Statewide harvest described as “remarkable” by CBH chief operations officer Ben Macnamara.

For the week ending December 18, CBH received 437,000 tonnes of grain from farmers in its Albany Zone, which covers the Great Southern and stretches past Darkan in the west and Hyden in the north.

That took CBH’s Albany Zone total to 2.77m tonnes, with some farmers closer to the south coast expected to continue harvesting into the new year.

Mr Macnamara said several rain events had delayed harvest in the Albany Zone, but the 2020 crop had already surpassed expectations.

WA’s total tonnage was now above the five-year average of 13.9m tonnes.

“For WA growers to produce an above-average crop in a year when rainfall and availability to subsoil moisture has been well below-average is a remarkable achievement,” he said.

“It’s a testament to the advanced and innovative farming practices adopted by our growers, and the resilience of our grain varieties.

“It’s a particularly pleasing result after a difficult season last year, and some welcome news to finish 2020.”

Harvesting barley in Manypeaks.
Camera IconHarvesting barley in Manypeaks. Credit: Shannon Smith / Albany Advertiser

The Grain Industry of WA has estimated that the Albany Zone will produce 3.85m tonnes overall for the 2020 season, its biggest total since the 3.93m harvested in 2014.

In GIWA’s December crop report, author Michael Lamond said grain production was outperforming expectations “right across the State”.

“Mild conditions, lack of frost, favourable timing of rainfall events and large areas of ameliorated soils have combined to give us this incredible result,” he said.

Just two months earlier in GIWA’s October crop report, Mr Lamond estimated a Statewide harvest of under 13m tonnes.

“The final figure will potentially be closer to 16.5 million tonnes, a figure that most thought was unachievable following the very dry finishing conditions,” he said this month.

While there have been some negatives around the Albany Zone — including frost damage north of the Stirling Range — it has been a happy harvest overall.

Mr Lamond said farmers had enjoyed huge yields in the south and west of the zone, with reports of nine tonnes per hectare for barley in individual paddocks around Frankland River.

Even in the dry eastern reaches of the zone, yields were “average to above average”.

“With above-average pricing, most are making money this year,” Mr Lamond said.

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