IMPROVEMENTS across the CBH network are ramping up for what looks to be a bumper crop.
Site maintenance and enhancements at Wagin, Dumbleyung, Beacon, Merredin and Albany are set to be ready in time for this year's harvest as part of the co-operative's $750 million CBH network strategy.
CBH is planning for an additional 400,000 tonnes of emergency storage, with a second wave of an additional 400,000t if needed.
CBH group general manager of operations David Capper said CBH was well-equipped to handle what was expected to be a record-breaking year.
Crop estimates are still varied, with CBH expecting about 14-16 million tonnes but the Grain Industry of Western Australia (GIWA) estimated a record 17.25mt in its July crop report.
The CBH network has 20mt of floor space, with carryover this year expected to be aabout 2mt.
Mr Capper said while the carryover was "historically on the high end" the network was well-equipped to receive the large crop due to the planned improvements and refinements.
"One of the great things about our network strategy is that it's flexible, so we have the ability to respond to seasonal conditions as we roll it out," he said.
"By the time we reach harvest we will have already seen significant progress towards the network of the future.
"In Wagin, an extra open bulkhead is being built so there will be more storage available in time for harvest and improved equipment at the site on existing storage will see quicker turnaround and throughput times.
"At the Dumbleyung site improved equipment on existing storage will improve turnaround times for growers, which makes them more profitable in the long-term.
"In Merredin we're building an extra open bulkhead to boost storage and in Beacon a new sample hut and weighbridge is being installed.
"In Albany we're improving the process for transferring grain from the trains to the conveyor for loading ships. This is set to be installed during the September shutdown at Albany Port and will improve the service to growers and customers."
Mr Capper said the Mirambeena site would also be ready for harvest, despite heavy rain in the area slowing construction in recent months.
"It's a great asset and having a feeder site for the Albany port and increasing capacity in the Albany zone will make operations across the zone more efficient," he said.
"The aim of these projects is to build the network of the future through the CBH network strategy, but their benefits will be felt immediately," he said.
Emergency storage is also expected in three waves, with the first 400,000t spread across the four zones and a second wave of additional storage planned in the Kwinana zone, where Mr Capper said "the greatest potential is to exceed forecast".
A third wave of emergency storage is being considered if necessary.
"Planning for a large harvest is always a challenge, but we would much rather be working towards that than the opposite," he said.
The swing away from wheat this season into coarse grains was also having an affect on planning.
GIWA has reported a 42 per cent increase in oats and a 16pc increase in barley plantings since 2015, which Mr Capper said was also having an effect on storage and where and how much segregation needs to occur.
Pulse plantings were also up by 40pc.
"Oats are roughly 1.5 times bigger and barley 1.2 times bigger than wheat and the increased hectares means that they will use a lot more storage," he said.
CBH has asked growers to submit their estimates.
He said co-operative had received about 40pc of grower estimates, with an ideal target of at least 80pc.
"We can respond really quickly but the more planning we can do, the better co-ordinated we are and the better service we can offer," Mr Capper said.
"If you don't tell us what you've planted and how much, we can't plan to give you the service that you need."
He also warned "there was still a long way to go yet".
"It's important that growers and the market understand that high yields being discussed are highly dependent on good spring rain and in some areas waterlogging means that a few weeks of drier weather would be welcome," he said.