Harvest shows ‘extremes’

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Harvest east of Cranbrook.
Camera IconHarvest east of Cranbrook. Credit: Liam Croy

The Albany zone received 2.7 million tonnes of grain for the 2019-2020 harvest, remarkably obtaining the same total as WA’s bumper 2018-19 season in a challenging year for growers.

Statewide, the total was below average, totalling just 9.7 million tonnes — well short of the previous season’s 16.4 million tonnes.

While the total was well down, the Cranbrook receival site in the zone smashed its record receival after the site underwent major upgrades.

The Grain Institute of WA titled their February crop report: “The 2019 West Australian Grain Season in Review: ‘From One Extreme to the Other’”.

GIWA crop report author Michael Lamond said the Albany West zone had had a very good year — more than likely the best year ever for cropping in the high-rainfall regions west of the Albany Highway.

“The southern Albany region really was ‘one extreme to the other’ as some growers had their best year ever close to the coast where they escaped the frost, whilst others further east had their worst year ever,” he said.

“Grain yields decreased as you moved east in the zone from the lack of rainfall and frost, with those sowing early getting roasted by the frost followed by the hot conditions which didn’t allow any recovery in crops, as is normally the case in the region.

“(In the Albany East) most crops in the region yielded slightly less than was expected in the lead-up to harvest.

“In 2019, a small difference of even 10mm in rainfall had a large difference in grain yield for growers, indicating that total rainfall was right on the edge of what was needed by crops to perform to their potential.

“For most, ‘just one more rain’ would have made a huge difference in total grain production.”

More than 1.5 million tonnes was delivered outside of the CBH system, with GIWA reporting an 11.29 million tonne harvest — the smallest crop in nearly a decade.

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