WA’s record grain harvest throws up new challenge for growers

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Harvest is getting under way across the Great Southern.
Camera IconHarvest is getting under way across the Great Southern. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman

WA grain growers are on track for a record 20.57 million tonne harvest — but a stop-start finish is keeping them on their toes.

The Grain Industry of WA has released its November crop report, with Statewide estimates jumping more than one million tonnes in the past month as harvest gets under way across the Great Southern.

WA’s previous grain harvest record was 18.2 million tonnes in the 2016 season.

Crop report author Michael Lamond said despite the massive harvest, rain and unseasonably cool conditions had left most growers behind schedule.

“The large crop with good prices has growers nervous because ‘you can’t count it until it’s in the bin’,” Mr Lamond said.

Mr Lamond said a cool spring had allowed crops to fill heads and add weight, but grain quality could start to slide if the rain continued.

“The full impact of the frosts across large areas of the central grain growing regions and more recently in the southern regions is still unknown, although it is now clear there will be more grain around than estimated a month ago,” he said.

The Albany zone is predicted to record a harvest of 4.27 million tonnes. In the southern reaches of the zone, grain yields are expected to be above average in most areas, except for waterlogged patches closer to the coast and in the west of the region.

“Harvesting is getting going in the region and early indications are grain yields are going to be above average for all areas away from the coast,” Mr Lamond said

“Recovery from the waterlogging has been substantial although whole paddock averages are going to be impacted by the poor spots.”

In the west of the Albany zone, late October frost could cause losses of more than 50 per cent in some wheat paddocks.

The east of the zone, which has been crippled by drought in recent years, is set for one of its “best results for a long time”.

“The early start, good rainfall, lack of frost and now cool finish have all contributed to the region expecting up to 50 per cent higher grain yields than average for all crops,” Mr Lamond said.

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