WHILE this season has produced record harvests for many, for others it has raised questions about economies of scale and the mental health toll from such a prolonged harvest.
Kellerberrin-based Spring Valley owner/operator Peter Wilkins and his family said output-wise, it was one of his best seasons, but conceded he was "bloody glad" it was over.
"If we never repeated that year again I would be happy," Mr Wilkins said, pointing to the ongoing challenges from the start to the finish.
"It was way too much excitement."
The enterprise is spread over various locations in the Kellerberrin district, growing barley, canola, lupins, oats and wheat, as well as running sheep.
A couple of years ago Mr Wilkins had about 10 hectares in one location produce more than six tonnes per hectare, but this year he said some areas produced more than 7t/ha, which "for this area they reckon is insane".
"We had some smashing stuff on the home farm but when we went to the other farms, we lost a lot of ground up there, so that pulled everything back," he said.
One of the highlights was using the new Combat barley from Eastern Districts Seed Cleaning Co in Kellerberrin for the first time.
When first harvesting it along a tree line, Mr Wilkins wasn't expecting big results as it didn't "look flash".
The results said otherwise.
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"The screen was saying it was 5t/ha," Mr Wilkins said.
He thought there was something wrong and the machine was giving the wrong information, "but the box holds 14,400 litres and in 1.8ha it was filled up".
Overall Mr Wilkins said the season was a good one, despite the speed bumps along the way.
It was extremely wet in the paddocks, which resulted in machinery getting bogged, so Mr Wilkins had to be selective about when to enter each paddock.
As a result he now has some work ahead of him to patch up the bog tracks, as well as repairing farm tracks and roads that have been damaged.
"We've had summer storms drop about 130 millimetres to 150mm in little time, which caused less damage than this year's rain," he said.
"The ground profile filled up and just couldn't hold any more, so it just oozed out the ground, destroying internal roads, culverts and paddocks in the process."
To rub salt into the wound, they had data glitches which meant they lost a lot of their harvest statistics.
Similar to a lot of farms in the area, Spring Valley struggled to find reliable workers which saw Mr Wilkins working unsustainable hours to get harvest across the finish line.
These, along with other challenges, have taken a large mental toll and Mr Wilkins is now deciding what the farm's best pathway is going forward.
"The body's fighting back a bit too, to get the job done you're putting your body on the line, and my body has decided it doesn't want to play the game as much anymore," he said.
Mr Wilkins has expanded his farm rapidly in the past 10 years and plans to expand more in the future, however what this looks like is still to be determined.
"I've resigned myself to the fact that I can't do all of it," Mr Wilkins said.
"The future I'd envisioned just looks a little different now."
The age-old riddle of where the sweet spot of economies of scale is on his farm is also now playing on his mind.
"I'm not sure whether the strategy is going to go all out and get bigger or scale back and grow bigger crops on a smaller area," he said.
"If you can grow more on less you're laughing, but if you've got the scale, you can push out as well."
Mr Wilkins said increasing input prices were also a large concern, as the profitability of farming was rapidly decreasing.
While this year may have been a record-breaking harvest, he said it was still unclear whether it'll be the most profitable year.
Mr Wilkins knows of people who have paid six figures in goods and service tax for a header and prices continue to escalate at an exponential rate.
"The numbers just blow your mind," he said.
"When it comes to seeding your crop, you might spend a few hundred dollars a hectare, but you don't know what's going to be on the other side of it.
"You still can't guarantee what the tonnes are going to be."
Despite all this, the fourth-generation farmer is keen to continue farming as it has been a lifetime of work by both himself and his predecessors on the home farm and their other farms, something he hopes will continue with future generations.
He also didn't want to lose the cumulative skills and experience that have been passed down through the family.
"It's generations of work and farm expansions, both keeping up to date with equipment and technology and physical land," Mr Wilkins said.
"It's not like you just wake up one morning with a farm like this."
Despite the long hours and hard work, Mr Wilkins was still able to spend some time with his little farmer-to-be, daughter Piper, who turns three in May.
She spent some of the harvest helping her dad with the spanners and tools and being the co-pilot in the header and chaser bin.
WITH some farmers struggling with the stress of a large harvest, Lifeline WA chief executive officer Lorna MacGregor encouraged anyone having a difficult time with the extended harvest to seek out CBH's Regional Crisis Information Resource or call Lifeline WA for crisis support.
The CBH resource is available to download from the CBH Group website or as a hard copy and provides information on services available in the local area.
"We know that rural communities have less access to mental health services to help farmers get through the harvest and other high stress periods," Ms MacGregor said.
"To help address this, Lifeline WA partners with CBH Group to deliver the CBH Regional Mental Health Program, which was specifically designed to assist grain growers and regional communities."
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