Harvest still on track despite rain setbacks

28 Nov, 2001 10:00 PM

NOVEMBER rain and hail has brought its woes across the WA grain belt but the overall harvest still holds promise.

In addition, the Esperance zone has its hopes pinned on a record harvest of 1.43mt, which would exceed its previous record of 1.36mt.

Despite soaking rain in the eastern Wheatbelt in mid-November ‹ in the wake of heavy rain in the northern Wheatbelt which marred the start to harvest ‹ strong delivery figures have been recorded for most premium grain grades.

Reports of weather damage have been patchy and changed from district to district.

Although scattered hail fell in many parts of the Wheatbelt, it hit hardest in the Wongan Hills district where a major hailstorm concentrated to the north east of Watheroo.

The storm then tracked southeast and finished near Dowerin.

Reports of entire crop losses have surfaced, with partial losses being reported by many other growers in the district.

According to an insurance assessor, up to 40 days may needed to gauge losses, therefore district losses have been difficult to estimate.

In the South West Land division there was little harvest activity at the start of last week due to moist conditions, with Hyden reporting the highest rainfall for seven days to Thursday, November 22, at 60mm.

Surrounding districts received similarly high rainfall figures of 57mm at Mount Walker, Kondinin and Karlgarin 52mm, Lake Grace 51mm, Koorikin 43mm and Holt Rock 41mm.

With harvest only just under way in the east, barley yet to be reaped has been struck with stain, demoting malt grade crops to feed.

However, this was patchy in accordance with rainfall.

The picture was not so bleak for canola, according to Elders agronomist Dan Taylor, Hyden, who said oil contents had reached 47 per cent, with a 42pc average.

Despite lack of growing season rain earlier in the year, the overall crop finished surprisingly well with early sown crops pushing the district average.

But again results were depicted as variable.

In the Co-operative Bulk Handling Lake Grace, Katanning and Albany districts, wheat waits to be harvested as the season dries out.

In the central Wheatbelt, rain topped 56mm in Narembeen, and down to the south coastal region Mettler recorded the highest level at 59mm.

North to the central west rainfall figures reached 22mm at Bolgart and Walebing.

While rain eased to 0.6mm in Geraldton, the district has approached the halfway mark in its harvest program.

According to a CBH spokesperson, only about 8000t more barley was expected from the Geraldton district and only 500t of barley from the Morawa district.

The Geraldton and Morawa districts have made up approximately 30pc of barley consigned to feed, but as harvest moves south, the percentage of malt has increased.

Last week was slow in the Esperance zone when rain and continuous moist conditions along the coastal strip also held up the harvest.

However, total receivals have a positive outlook and with fine weather over the weekend, receivals jumped earlier this week.



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