WA harvest continues at a snail's pace

27 Nov, 2009 01:00 AM

IN a repeat of last season, the 2009-10 harvest is suffering continued rain delays and quality frustrations.

About 900,000 tonnes of grain were put through the CBH system last week, with 300,000t coming in from growers in the Geraldton zone.

As of Monday, CBH had taken about 1.9mt this harvest.

The hope of warmer weather this week is expected to increase the pace of grain deliveries.

CBH grain operations manager Colin Tutt said the low volume acquired by the CBH storage and handling system so far this harvest, was a reflection of the slow start.

Mr Tutt said growers from Esperance through to Geraldton were frustrated by last week's rain.

"With prices where they are, growers need to get the crop off a lot quicker and need to get a good 10 day run at it," he said.

If the warm weather lingers, Mr Tutt said CBH had the capacity to take 2mt in one week.

"We should be taking in 300,000t to 350,000t a day but the best we have done so far this harvest is 200,000t," he said.

"If we get a good run at it we can potentially do 2mt and hopefully we can do that next week.

"The harvest is unfolding in a similar pattern to last year and there's plenty of frustration.

"Although the amount of rain volume has been less, it is similar (to last year) in the fact that harvest gets going for two or three days, then it rains."

Grain quality is also an issue of concern.

In particular, growers in the Geraldton zone are struggling to reach quality targets.

Mr Tutt said CBH was "very concerned" with falling numbers in wheat crops in the area.

He said any further "significant rains" in the zone would cause grain quality issues that would impact negatively on price.

Despite the slow pace, Mr Tutt said the Geraldton zone remained on track to receive about 2.5mt of grain this year, similar to its record production volume last season.

"The best day in the Geraldton zone so far has been 70,000t, and at the Geraldton port the best has been 20,000t in one day," he said.

"But it should be 30,000t at the port alone so it shows you just how slow the pace has been.

"There are some indications that frost has hurt places like Yuna a little bit more than we first thought.

"It looks like Yuna will struggle to get their estimate already, and that's a bit of a concern, but overall it's quite a big crop and we should get about 2.5mt."

Mr Tutt said CBH was on course to receive 11.8mt of grain in WA this year.

That estimate was reduced substantially over the past two months, due to a poor finish.


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