WESTERN Australia is on track to produce its second-highest winter crop harvest on record, according to the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia’s (GIWA) October crop report.
The six major field crops – wheat, barley, canola, oats, lupins and field peas – are expected to produce 16.877 million tonnes, 13.9pc greater than the 2015 harvest and just under the 2013 record of 16.985mt.
This is despite a pattern of cooler-than-average temperatures and repeated frosts that have shaved about 1mt from earlier September estimates.
GIWA’s Ian Longson said the cool seasonal conditions would result in an extended harvest in WA which was likely to benefit handlers and marketers.
“The traditional view is that if you can finish by Christmas you are doing well,” he said.
“This year Geraldton will finish in that time, however Albany is two to three weeks later than one would normally expect because of the extended cool weather and this harvest will not conclude until well into January.”
Key points from the report
- Frost has cut yields
Frost has caused around 1mt to be trimmed from the total state crop forecast between September and October. The most significant frost impact is to cereal crops in the Albany zone’s Lakes region’s Hyden, Varley, Lake King and Newdegate districts where the very severe frost events about a week apart in late September appear likely to result in around 25pc yield loss in cereals, barley being worse-affected than wheat, with lesser effect on canola and lupins there.
- Long, cool growing season benefits yields
The extended cool growing season, along with predicted weather patterns for the remainder of the season, should bring higher-than-average yields in barley and wheat crops. While this is typically not a problem for malting barley, it remains to be seen at harvest time exactly where wheat proteins fit with millers’ preferences. Barley crops in the southern Albany zone are stating to flower much later than would normally have been expected.
- Canola deliveries have started up north
Canola has generally benefited from the seasonal conditions in both yield and oil content. Canola deliveries to Geraldton port have commenced as has swathing in early crops elsewhere.
- Northern lupins excellent, southern potential restricted
Lupin yields in Kwinana and Geraldton zones will be high. Pod set in Albany and Esperance zones had been limited by cloudy conditions and yield potential has been restricted.
- Optimism for oat crops
Oat quality and yield in the Kwinana and Albany zones are expected to be very good, with an overall state forecast of 757,000t.
At 16,877mt, the WA crop would be 37pc of the Australian national crop.