The Western Australian grain harvest is on track to be mostly finished by the end of December, several weeks earlier than normal.
That is the view from the Grain Industry Association of WA (GIWA) that has just released its November 2023 crop outlook
Rain and hail across some parts of the central and southern regions over the past week has put the brakes on harvesting for a few days, although most growers are expected to be underway again from today.
The short sharp finish to the growing season resulted in an earlier start to harvest than in previous years for many growers.
This, combined with lower yields in all crops, increased capacity from investment in machinery following the last couple of high production years, and good harvesting conditions has meant growers are ahead of where they would normally be at this time of the year.
GIWA said late-sown crops have struggled across the board and combined with the short, hard finish to the season, most yields are below expectations and are well below average.
This has resulted in the estimated total harvest tonnage now being a little over 14.5 million tonnes, down 445,000t on the October estimates.
While there have been some surprises in better-than-expected grain quality, the yields have mostly been a little lower than expected and this trend is likely to continue as more crop comes off in the southern regions.
The timing of crop emergence has had the largest impact on final grain yield this year, with the early sown crops out yielding the later sown crops by a fair margin.
The lack of spring rain has effectively shortened the season and severely limited the potential of any crops that were later emerging.
GIWA said barley has been the standout crop so far, except in the very dry regions in the north.
There has been a good strike rate of grain making Malt in the central regions, although this falls away as you move further south in the state.
Retention (grain size) has been surprisingly good in some areas, although further south in the Esperance and Albany port zones, retention has been poor and very few loads have made Malt either due to low retention or high protein.
Canola yields are much lower than the previous years, although the overall state average will be in excess of 1.2 tonnes per hectare, which is close to long term averages.
The majority of wheat crops have suffered from the hot dry finish and grain yields have been coming in lower than anticipated at the start of harvest.
The Kwinana zone is predicted to deliver 6,302,000t, while Albany is slated for 4,010,000, Esperance, 2,720,000t and Geraldton 1,477,000t for an overall predicted total of 14,509,000t.
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