WINTER crop production prospects continue to improve in Western Australia as late season grain fill moves the 2017 harvest from ‘ordinary’ to ‘average’.
In its November crop report, the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA), has lifted its estimate of WA winter crop production 6.9 per cent from October to 12.326 million tonnes.
The exception to this is in the east and north east wheat belt where some growers who were facing total crop failure in July may now achieve a “below cost recovery” season.
The WA harvest is just cranking up with barley and canola crops coming off.
There have been quite a few deliveries to the Esperance Port Zone in the south so far, but not a lot at Geraldton in the north where it was a later start.
Harvest in the Kwinana zone is only just getting going and there is little activity yet in the Great Southern areas.
GIWA oilseeds chair and report author, Michael Lamond, said the combination of a late harvest and a late break to the growing season could see more upside to the current estimates over the next six weeks.
“Late rains in September and mild temperatures in October enhanced favourable finishing conditions resulting in many crops harvested to date yielding “better than they look”,” he said.
“It has been a very mild October and, because crops had subsoil moisture, they were able to utilise that and continued to fill. So, grain size is really good and has contributed to yield.”
Mr Lamond said early deliveries of barley had tested low for protein, had good grain size and some germ end stain.
“The indications are that this trend of low protein grain will continue as growers were generally sparing with nitrogen applications as the season improved to a far greater extent than was expected,” he said.
Mr Lamond said while there hadn’t been a lot of wheat harvested yet, indications were that yields would be good, but protein would be well down.
“The barley looked better than the wheat all year. People really backed off (fertiliser applications) on the wheat, but then there were two months of mild conditions and rain in September. In the lower rainfall areas where there was a later start they hardly put any fertiliser on at all because they didn’t expect to get much crop,” he said.
Early canola grain yields have been varied with some good yields and some low yields in the same region. Oil percentages have been in the high 40s in most cases.
Lupin grain yields have been low in the north of the state with most likely to be retained on farm for livestock feed.
The lupin crops improve as you go south and lupins from these regions will make up a greater percentage of the lupin crop tonnage than normal.
Oats for grain harvested so far has been good quality though down in yield.
Oats for hay are mostly baled up now in the central and north of the state, following a very drawn out process from light rainfall events.