Heads up as headers start to roll

27 Sep, 2012 02:00 AM
The familiar drone of a header broke the silence in the north east Wheatbelt at Pindar this week, as local farmer Mark Flannagan became arguably the first in WA to start this year's harvest.
The familiar drone of a header broke the silence in the north east Wheatbelt at Pindar this week, as local farmer Mark Flannagan became arguably the first in WA to start this year's harvest.

APART from a few fairy showers, it has been another week devoid of rain throughout the Wheatbelt.

And the dry period, with the likelihood of more dry days to come, has prompted CBH to revise downwards its harvest receivals figure.

Two weeks ago, CBH was predicting 9.5 million tonnes of grain would fill the company's coffers.

This week the figure is between 9 and 9.5mt, which is still way above what grain analysts consider to be the likely result.

The most favoured guesstimate is between 5.5mt and 6.5mt.

A damage estimate in areas hit by weekend frost damage will be made this week which also could impact on the State's total.

There is still plenty of yield potential in crops holding on, but for good grain fill, the requested rain total from farmers is between 15mm and 20mm.

At this stage it is an unlikely proposition, with stressed wheat crops likely to mean an abundance of shrivelled grain.

Ajana farmer John Ralph said despite sunny conditions some crops were holding on well.

"It's a reasonable to poor scenario up here," he said.

"On the better quality soils yields could be around eight bags (1.6t/ha) but quality will be the issue, as to what you can sell for a good price.

"The cool weather has slowed crops down a bit but it is varied throughout the district and anything on deep sands is starting to struggle from lack of moisture."

At west Binnu, local farmer Murray Carson said crops could still benefit from a good rain.

"The crops are looking okay but it's what's in the heads that counts and we need rain to get that potential," he said.

North Mollerin farmer Cathy Cooke said crops on parts of the farm where summer rain was recorded, were holding up well.

"We've had a few showers this month which has kept things ticking along but anything on the red country is starting to struggle," she said.

"The canola is still looking good so another 10mm would give us a decent result overall."

At Southern Cross, Clint Della Bosca said the family farm was a tale of two parts.

"Our northern areas are looking poor and we're probably heading for our fourth consecutive failure up there," he said.

"It's disappointing because we've got patches to the south that are doing okay.

"Those crops will still benefit from a five mill event which we're hoping to get this week."

Dudinin farmer Simon Duckworth also was facing disappointment after a weekend frost.

"I don't know how much damage it has done but that will be my concern this week," he said.

"We've still got sheep but the wethers should have left the property four weeks ago.

"With no buyers and a lack of feed it's just another thing we don't want.

"Overall the crops aren't too bad but it's the later sown crops that are still flowering that have copped it with the frost.

"We got 20mm of rain last week in a thin strip but more will be welcome."

Kondinin farmer Bruce Browning said a mild frost was recorded on the family's property.

"I don't think it did too much damage but I know south of us there were a few white paddocks," he said.

"The crops are hanging on and there's still potential for grain fill but we don't want any more hot days.

"We've got hay on the ground which we want to bale this week so it's bound to rain."

While he missed Sunday's frost, Kondinin shire president Allan Smoker said most crops in the district were on a knife edge.

"South is a bit better but north around Narembeen and Bruce Rock is looking ordinary," he said.

"The big contrast this year throughout the district is between early and later sown crops.

"Our hay crops averaged between three and 4.5 tonnes (a hectare) so we're happy with that.

"If we get a decent rain we'll finish with an average result which will put us above budget."

Beaumont farmer Mick McDonald also was hoping for an average result to the season.

"Our early sown crops are going well while there's still potential for our later sown crops," he said.

"But they will need a good drink soon."



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