Harvest is complete for some, halfway for others and at various stages in-between for graingrowers all over Western Australia, with the CBH weekly report showing the Geraldton zone is the closest to reaching the estimated zone totals as provided by the Grain Industry Association of WA for this season.
With inconsistent rainfall throughout the growing regions and low summer rainfall totals, the predictions and expectations pre-harvest were much lower than the previous years record breaking totals, so it is no surprise to hear yields are down and for many so is quality.
After three really good seasons with high production harvests, for many growers the issues moving forward will be input costs, disease control and looking to minimise both to increase profit margins and minimise risk.
Speaking to growers and agronomists in different areas the message has been similar across the board, the lack of consistent or notable rainfall is the single biggest factor affecting this year's harvest figures.
Smyth Agri Services, profit share partner principal, Anthony Smyth, Mingenew, said harvest up around Mingenew was proceeding as forecast.
"It is going as we expected," Mr Smyth said.
"It is a little light on for growers, with yields certainly well back on historical averages.
"It's definitely one of those seasons where, if clients got a degree of summer rainfall - through the March rainfall event that came through the northern area of our shire and up through the Mullewa area, then they ended up getting OK yields.
"Whereas the growers who missed out on that rainfall event at the end of March are harvesting very light crops, with wheat yields anywhere from 800 kilograms per hectare to 1000kg (one tonne) which is historically low for this area."
Mr Smyth said canola, planted on the heavier country, ranged from 400kg/ha through to about 1.2-1.3t/ha.
Generally speaking it has been a tough season for growers because of a historically low level of rainfall.
"Mingenew town received about 137mm for the year, which I believe is the lowest rainfall recorded for a calendar year since 1896," Mr Smyth said.
"This year has really highlighted the importance of summer rainfall up around our area.
"The summer rainfall enables growers to have the confidence to complete their full program and also to decide the crop types they are looking to sow.
"Ultimately this year there was more fallow in this part of the world because of the reduced confidence, off the back of low summer rainfall and the late break to the season.
"We had a breaking rain on May 31, which is traditionally quite late for us."
Mr Smyth said looking ahead, there would be some consolation for growers in terms of input costs.
"There will be some relief for growers next year, with a lot of ag chem inputs heading down to historical lows, which is positive news," he said.
Having travelled back to Mingenew from Perth over the weekend Mr Smyth said the reduced amount of vehicle traffic was certainly noticeable.
With a heatwave predicted to hit WA this week, he said a lot of growers in his area were due to finish harvest.
"About 90 per cent of harvest is complete up here," Mr Smyth said.
"As long as there is no wind with the heat, a lot of guys will be able to finish by the end of this week."
Finishing earlier means there will be quite a few growers, up around Mingenew, with extra time on their hands, giving them time to catch up with family or complete some of those tasks they have been putting off.
"Having more time, given that it has been quite a short harvest, there will be a fair bit of lime being carted, some water works getting done and hopefully a few earlier holidays," Mr Smyth said.
"We will be out doing some soil borne disease testing with growers, as we have seen quite an increase of incidences of soil borne disease out in the paddock.
"Soil borne diseases usually do show up in a poorer season, so we will be trying to address that with growers and conduct soil testing through December to aid them in making their decision.
"There hasn't been a lot of disease up here, purely because of the conditions.
"There has been a lot of wheat on wheat going in, so there are a number of decisions growers will need to make in terms of fungicides, either through seed treatment or in furrow application."
Around Mingenew growers mainly produce wheat, canola and lupins, with Mr Smyth saying there was a lot less lupins than normal.
"There has been a lot of wheat on wheat but lupins for our area have gone down," he said.
"Lupin plantings around here have gone from about 60,000ha down to about only 18,000 to 20,000ha.
"This is definitely something that needs to be noted because if the price of lupins doesn't increase significantly next year then that number is going to be even less."
Westonia grower, Tim Della Bosca farms about 7500ha and was about halfway through his harvest last weekend.
He received a small amount of rain from the same system that saw hailstones fall in Hyden and Corrigin.
"We were quite fortunate, we received 1.5 millimetres on the first day," Mr Della Bosca said.
"We got about 3.5mm where we were working, so it was OK."
This year the Della Bosca's cropping program was missing one of its staple inclusions, canola, due to the lack of summer rainfall.
"We put in 230ha of oats, 800ha Maximus barley and 2800ha of wheat," Mr Della Bosca said.
"Normally we put 700-1000ha of canola in also, but we didn't this year because we didn't get the rain at the start of the year."
Harvest traditionally starts at the end of October and continues through to mid-December for the Della Bosca's, but this year it will finish sooner.
"This year we have been able to speed across everything quite quickly and we are about half way through," Mr Della Bosca said.
"We will be finished by the end of November or first week of December at the latest."
He said it was disappointing to have yield and quality down, but he was not complaining as some farmers further north have had a much worse season.
"We will be somewhere around 800kg/ha for our wheat," he said.
"Barley will probably be a bit less.
"It is not the best result that we were looking for, but there has been some really nice crop on good country in patches that has gone 2.5t/ha and some that has gone from 500kg/ha -1.5t/ha, but this is patches."
Mr Della Bosca said it was a case of one paddock at a time and they had been lucky so far with machinery.
He said there had been no issues or hold ups with their CBH facilities, which had also made things move much quicker.
The main issue now is with lower yields and less profit, the costs were still the same and this is where they may struggle to break even.
"The only thing that really hurts us is the amount we have paid for our inputs," Mr Della Bosca said.
"I paid $1138/t for Flexi-N and we have paid $1200-$1400/t for our compound blend.
"Those sorts of costs are quite high and it is hard to recover when you need an average year to cover costs.
"This year we are just below average.
"We have gone from our biggest year ever to one of the worst years ever."
Mr Della Bosca said issues like the price of diesel and the future of ag lime needed to be looked at moving forward.
Mingenew farmer and Shire president Gary Cosgrove said they had only received about 40 per cent of their annual rainfall which has had a huge outcome on the yield and quality of crops.
"We are around 75pc done with our harvest," Mr Cosgrove said.
"Our yields are definitely below average, with canola and lupins well below average and the wheat only just below."
He said that while it was not an ideal situation, he cannot really complain as the yields were down but the wheat quality was up.
"Our wheat quality has been excellent," Mr Cosgrove said.
"This year we waited for germination before seeding and this made a big difference and turned out really well.
"The only hassle for us was that we had two new harvesters that didn't arrive till almost the halfway mark for our harvest.
"The dealer let us use two others and ours arrived when we were halfway through."
Mr Cosgrove said another issue was the amount of grain that had fallen on the ground.
"We estimated there could be around 150-200kg of wheat on the ground," he said.
While there were many factors causing problems, the weather had been ideal.
"The weather has been ideal for harvest," Mr Cosgrove said.
"There was only one day lost to a harvest ban."
Paul Freeman farms at Mullewa and has finished harvest and is glad they have finished.
He said the dry year influences how their wheat, lupins and canola turned out.
"Having summer rain or early rain made a noticeable difference to crops," Mr Freeman said.
"Our yields were all down.
"The canola was OK and the wheat and lupins were just OK.
"It looked way better than it yielded and the quality was not the best."
Mr Freeman said they had also had issues with screenings but other than that it had been easy going.
He said with all the other things going on, farmers were losing confidence.
"It just feels like the government hates farmers," Mr Freeman said.
"They keep making it harder for us to do our job.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.