THUNDERSTORMS, patches of hailstones, showers, lightning strike fires and the occasional harvest ban thrown in, have conspired to cause a relatively slow start to harvest this year.
But despite the slow start, particularly in southern zones, some of the Geraldton zone sites really cranked up last week, according to the CBH Group, with existing delivery records being threatened at some locations and a new record set at Carnamah.
Patchy weather and harvest delays also do not seem to have affected grain quality, CBH said in its latest harvest report.
With 2,304,000 tonnes of grain delivered to its receival sites last week, CBH estimates almost one third of the harvest had been completed by the end of last week.
So far this harvest 4,855,000t of grain have been delivered to CBH receival sites throughout the Wheatbelt, about 32 per cent of the total it is expecting for this season.
This compares to last year when just over five million tonnes had been received by the same time.
CBH general manager operations, David Capper said the first few weeks of harvest “have definitely been a little patchy with wet and stormy weather holding up progress in several areas”.
“Despite the weather we don’t believe that it will affect grain quality at this stage and in some areas we are seeing better than expected yields which is promising for a great final harvest result,” Mr Capper said.
He said while harvest in the two southern zones had been most affected by weather delays, the Geraldton zone has received about 65pc of its estimated tonnage already, with several sites coming close to breaking records for receivals.
Geraldton zone CBH crews have had a very busy week with total receivals to date passing the 1.5 million tonne mark.
The zone received 543,000t of grain last week, made up of mainly wheat and lupins, as barley and canola receivals are starting to slow down, according to Geraldton zone manager Duncan Gray.
“Last week we saw our Carnamah site break its receival record, reaching 10,601t on November 20 and we have also seen many other sites come very close to breaking records,” Mr Gray said.
“This week we will start to see some new season’s shipping which will be a welcome relief, but we will also start to see some sites become very tight for some services.”
So far, a total of 1,567,000t has been received in the zone this harvest.
Harvest has started much more slowly in the Albany zone than it did last year, with 385,000t received so far and 324,000t of that having arrived last week.
This is about 40pc less than was delivered by the same time in 2017.
“Delays to harvest are again due to continuing poor weather conditions in the zone,” said Albany zone manager Greg Thornton.
“(But) the rain experienced recently is not expected to have an impact on quality at this stage.”
Barley continues to be the major delivery, with 330,000t received so far and a good percentage of this is making malt grades, he said.
Additional Planet segregations have been introduced to cater for demand.
The zone has received 45,000t of canola and is also starting to see wheat deliveries in the northern areas.
Like Albany zone, the Esperance zone is still experiencing delays to harvest due to poor weather.
“Late last week we started to see some good tonnages being delivered however, scattered showers again this week slowed things down again,” said Esperance zone manager Mick Daw on Friday.
“Most of the canola has now been harvested and growers are moving on to barley and wheat,” Mr Daw said.
In the Esperance zone 337,000t were received last week, bringing total receivals so far this harvest to 503,000t for the zone.
The Kwinana zone experienced another rain event the Friday afternoon before last which slowed deliveries over the weekend and early into last week.
Despite this, the zone still had its best delivery week of the harvest so far, with more than 1.1mt of grain received, taking the total received so far to 2.4mt.
“We are now seeing all grain types come into the system as growers finish off barley and go on to wheat and oats,” said Kwinana assistant zone manager Allan Walker.
China has initiated an anti-dumping investigation into Australian barley competing in the Chinese market.
CBH has said it was doing everything it could to work co-operatively with the Australian grain industry, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China to ensure a positive outcome for its ongoing grain trade relationship with China.
Australia has a long and respected grain trading history with China, specifically for barley, CBH said.
As a result of the Chinese anti-dumping investigation announcement, barley values came off about $30 per tonne during last week as the market awaited further information on the announcement.
According to CBH’s grain trading division, this resulted in some active grower selling as they sold directly off the header.
The week ended with values to growers at $300/t free in store (FIS).
The later harvest is creating some challenges as the trade looks to cover some of its early vessel requirements, CBH’s grain traders said.
This has seen the trade paying a premium to growers for specific grades for early transfer, to ensure vessels are shipped within their contract period, they said.
However, for standard grades such as APW1 the market has remained relatively flat this week with a $5-7/t range in pricing about the $340/t FIS level.
Trade interest continued with the market looking to cover both domestic and international requirements.
Growers were reasonably active sellers with the market staying steady at $573-575/t FIS.