Eyes on weather as headers start to roll

24 Sep, 2015 01:00 AM
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Binnu farmer Tom Powell said he was still two to three weeks away from harvest.
Binnu farmer Tom Powell said he was still two to three weeks away from harvest. "The sandplain looks golden but there's still plenty of green around at the moment," he said. "Rain now won't make much difference but we'd like a cool finish because there is some potential to finish off okay."

HOPES are high for a good finish to the 2015 cropping season.

While most harvest action won't start until next month, Northampton farmer Karl Suckling broke the proverbial tape delivering canola to CBH on Friday.

Speaking on ABC radio last Friday, Mr Suckling said he started harvest a day later than last season.

"We had a really hot August and the crops finished off and we got into it, I think it was September 16 last year," he said.

"This year it has been September 17 and it's a completely different season thankfully.

"It's average (because) out here on the coast we've missed out on a lot of frontal rainfall, which is what we typically get here.

"So the crops are going to be solid average crops, not above average, but very, very good compared to the last three years we've had.

"Our home property closer to Binnu, there's potential they're going to be above average crops."

With just 200 tonne delivered to the terminal (as of Monday), CBH's Geraldton Port zone manager Duncan Gray said it was too early to comment on quality, based on early loads.

"There's a lot of positivity around but we won't know much until the headers get into the crop and larger quantities of grain starts coming in," he said.

"We're still holding to our receivals estimate of between 2.3 million tonnes and 2.5mt."

Glen Reynolds, who operates one of the northernmost farms in the Wheatbelt, east of Kalbarri at Mary Springs, said he expected to be harvesting his wheat crop within the next two weeks.

"Crops are haying off and looking pretty handy, especially on the red dirt where they have hung on," he said.

"Hopefully it comes off as good as it looks."

Ajana farmer Malcolm Ralph said crops would be ready for harvest by mid-October "if it stays cool".

"We actually needed one more rain but we'll take what we can get now and overall the result will be a lot better than in the past few years," he said.

Balla farmer Neville Humphries also expected to start his harvest in mid-October.

"The wheat is turning now along with some lupins but most of the crops are still green," he said.

"Hopefully we'll get a good result, especially with some of the lupin paddocks which look terrific at the moment, with between 60 and 75 pods a plant."

Most areas of the central Wheatbelt and Great Southern are in good shape, albeit, with hopes of a soft finish, and reports of frost have been minimal to this stage.

But there are areas where dry spells are causing angst with farmers, including Darren Smith, Kukerin.

"We're pretty desperate for some rain," he said.

"But it doesn't look like we'll get any so yields won't be flash.

"There has been frost about but not too bad around here, although a farmer I spoke with at Nyabing recently said he probably copped about 400ha of damage.

"At this stage south Kukerin looks better than north Kukerin."

A happy Salmon Gums farmer Rory Graham said the word throughout the Esperance port zone was one of positivity.

"2013 was our best season ever and we'll go close to that in Salmon Gums," he said.

"And there's expectancy that, without the water-logging they had down south in 2013, crops will be really good too.

"We're still two to three weeks away from getting into canola with the wheat and barley crops starting to turn.

"But there are still a few later sown crops that are filling after one of our wettest Augusts on record.

"Our pastures are massive too so there's plenty of feed around."

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FarmWeekly
Ken Wilson

Ken Wilson

is Farm Weekly's machinery writer

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