Harvest havoc

29 Nov, 2012 01:00 AM
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A RARE mid-level disturbance, which drenched the majority of the Wheatbelt last weekend, following storms last week, has effectively put harvest on hold for many farmers until at least the weekend.

As farmers rued the untimely event last Sunday, following a bucketing on Thursday and Saturday, another rain system, albeit less intense, was brewing off the coast with forecasts for extensive rain periods on Wednesday and Thursday.

A prolonged spell of fine weather next week is expected to provide farmers with the opportunity to finish off programs.

But where there's rain there's quality issues and no doubt they will emerge next week triggering Falling Numbers machines to many CBH receival sites.

As predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology and numerous weather experts, rain you would kill for at seeding, almost stealthily, loomed as black clouds over the horizon on Saturday morning, before taking an inexorable swath throughout the Wheatbelt.

Koorda took the honours nobody wanted with the State's top recording of 106mm, putting the local CBH receivals bin under water.

While the majority of towns recorded double digit rainfall figures, ranging between 10mm and 25mm, heavier recordings occurred at Seven Oaks (east Merredin 81mm), Trayning (59mm), Westonia (47mm), Bencubbin (48mm), Gabbin (45mm) Burracoppin (43mm), Bullfinch (40mm), Narembeen (38mm) and Hyden (38mm).

Bencubbin farmer Nick Gillett recorded 29mm on his property over three days and was harvesting on Saturday thinking he had missed the event.

"It didn't start raining until near midnight on the Saturday and the rain gauge showed 21mm the next day," he said.

"It put a stop to the harvest and we're about half way through our program so we're hoping for a good dry run.

"So far the wheat has come off well between 0.7t/ha and 1.5t/ha with the Cadoux going into Noodle and the Mace hitting mostly Hard1.

"We're a bit toey with more rain on the way that we may have some quality issues.

"The Mace is standing up well and weight is good but you never know."

Quairading farmer Todd Mills counted himself lucky to be in the minority recording only two millimetres on his property.

"We resumed harvest on Monday with fingers crossed," he said. "Most of the rain was recorded east and north of us."

Machinery dealers also joined the list of frustrated harvest participants as several were keen to demonstrate new models to farmers.

Those schedules were put back until next week.

According to CBH, about 50 per cent of the State's estimated tonnages have been received, with the receivals estimate unchanged between 8.5 million tonnes and 9.3mt.

Some sites and segregations are starting to close, so growers and transporters are urged to contact the site to confirm services before delivery.

Receivals by zone to date are: Geraldton 1,147,670 tonnes; Kwinana 1,658,830t; Albany 760,000t and Esperance 1,135,400. Total : 4,701,900t.

p Geraldton zone

It has been a mixed week in the Geraldton zone with heavy rains slowing down receivals and only 224,000t were delivered for the week.

Geraldton zone manager Duncan Gray, said most northern growers had finished with many southern growers just re-starting after the rain event.

"We should reach or go very close to our 1.5 million tonne estimate," he said.

"It is very important that as we start to slow down we don't become complacent with safety.

"It has been a very positive harvest so far in the Geraldton zone but by no means do we want any accidents to occur."

p Kwinana zone

Zone manager Brett Jeffrey said last week saw solid tonnages received up until Wednesday night before storms throughout the zone on Thursday morning stopped operations.

"With falls up to 40mm, the storms restricted the tonnes received for the week to 649,000t," he said.

"In an attempt to ensure we capture as much value as we can for growers despite the weather issues, we have extended the high moisture trial to all sites throughout the zone for wheat only.

"Most growers are now well into wheat programs and finding the quality to be quite good with solid protein and minimal screenings.

"Growers are urged to stay in touch with area managers as sites change opening and closing times to deal with weather events."

p Albany zone

The Albany zone has now received 760,000 tonnes with 380,000 tonnes being received in the past week.

CBH Albany zone manager, Greg Thornton said rain in the northern areas of the zone late in the week slowed harvest activities.

"Deliveries in Albany continue to be mainly barley and canola with some wheat now coming in," he said.

"Grain quality for the area continues to be reasonable, with high screenings being the main concern with a number of additional segregations for wheat being introduced to accommodate."

Growers are reminded that GM-canola deliveries to the Albany terminal close on November 30.

p Esperance zone

Esperance zone manager Mick Daw, said the zone had an excellent week up until Thursday when a number of storms hit late in the day to bring harvest to a crawl.

Most of the rain fell in the eastern part of the zone.

The zone received 424,000t over the last seven days.

"During the week we had record daily receivals at Munglinup on two occasions which highlights the benefits of the improvements at the site," he said.

"We also consistently received over 20,000t a day in Esperance.

"With the good run of weather many growers have either finished or are very close to finishing their programs.

"Our estimate of 1.5 million tonnes is still looking vey good."

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