HARVEST in the Western Australian grainbelt has been a stop-start affair due to continued rainfall events and the unseasonal cool conditions slowing down the “finish” of crops, according to the latest report from the Grain Industry Association of WA (GIWA).
Growers are finding all crops are yielding better than expected except for the badly frosted areas in the north-eastern and far eastern regions of the state.
The cool conditions in spring have had a major impact on allowing crops to fill heads and add weight in all regions.
Heat shock in the spring is usually the limiting factor with grain yield and the lack of it this year has had a staggering effect on the ability of crops to finish, even where there was very little finishing rainfall.
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.
In all regions where harvesting has been underway for a few weeks, canola crops are yielding higher than expected even where there were losses from the repeated wind events over the last few weeks.
Canola crops in the southern regions have benefited from the soft finish as well and total production could end up just short of three million tonnes.
Cereal crops are yielding better than expected although results so far are mainly from the better paddocks.
Lupin, pulse and oat grain yields will all be above average.
There have been a series of storm events that have caused significant loss from hail in strips, although the overall impact on total grain production for the state will be minimal.
Grain quality is starting to be impacted by the wet conditions and will start to slide if wet weather continues.
Harvest is behind schedule for most growers and the large crop with good prices has growers nervous because “you can’t count it until it’s in the bin”.
Further detail on crop conditions in individual WA port zones can be found on the GIWA website.