Harvest programs still lingering for some

Shannon Beattie
By Shannon Beattie
Updated February 3 2022 - 6:18am, first published December 3 2021 - 11:00pm
For the Stretch family at Kojonup, harvest finally wrapped up on January 27. Photo by Emily Stretch.

WHILE most farmers around WA have been enjoying their summer holidays, for some the task of harvest has been ongoing with January spent still in the header getting the crop off.

At the beginning of the year, CBH Group had received a total of 20.42 million tonnes of grain.

Advertisement

Ad

As of Monday morning, that figure had increased by almost 870,000t to reach 21.28mt.

The Albany zone contributed the most of that grain over the past four weeks with 284,704t coming in, followed by Kwinana South with 196,874t.

For Kojonup farmer Digby Stretch, harvest finally wrapped up on January 27 and while that was two weeks later than usual, it wasn't surprising or upsetting given how the season played out.

With almost 740 millimetres of rain for the year, which is 150-200mm above average, the ground was wet from the start.

At the start of the season they chose to delay sowing because the ground was so wet in March and April, which left the weeds growing to pump the ground dry and then started on a double knock chemical program in May.

"When it comes to harvest, we normally can get a blow-in very late November and things really start rocking in the first week of December, but all of that was about 10 days later this year because it was so wet," Mr Stretch said.

"Half of our crop was hybrid canola that was all standing - we didn't have any swathed or desiccated, so it was really going until after Christmas because it was big and slow.

"About 20 per cent of what we sowed was severely impacted by waterlogging, to the point where we didn't harvest it at all, however we came out of it better than expected and the estimates I made in September ended up being pessimistic."

Over harvest, the Stretchs had 11 rainy days, 10 harvest bans and three fires they had to attend, meaning they lost 24 days during harvest, on top of the usual Christmas Day festivities which always slows things down. Photo by Digby Stretch.

Over harvest, the Stretchs had 11 rainy days, 10 harvest bans and three fires they had to attend, meaning they lost 24 days during harvest, on top of the usual Christmas Day festivities which always slows things down.

They also went into harvesting under-staffed by one person, plus harvesters are the last thing they plan to replace as they upscale the cropping program, so they were a bit undersized in terms of machinery for the crop they grew.

Lastly, they also run 15,000 sheep, so as a busy mixed farm harvest takes a bit longer to get done.

With harvest over, the Stretchs have changed their pace and shearing is set to start soon.

"There's plenty of pencilling going on at the moment with our lime spreading and fertiliser programs will kick into gear over February and March," Mr Stretch said.

"There's been a lot of interesting planning with the different paradigm of inputs this year in terms of chemicals and fertilisers.

"We've already forward sold a bit of stuff for next year to lock in some profits that will hopefully match the fertiliser cost."

Want weekly news highlights delivered to your inbox? Sign up to the Farm Weekly newsletter.

Advertisement

Ad

Get the latest Western Australia news in your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.