November 10, 2008


Western Australia wheat harvest resumes


Harvesting of winter crops in Western Australia, potentially a major global supplier of traded wheat, should resume in earnest this week after rain delays.


Michael Musgrave, operations manager at logistics concern Cooperative Bulk Handling Ltd. said that as of Monday, 3 November 2008 morning, CBH had received 665,000 tonnes of grain into its statewide system.


Growers have been frustrated by rain delays and are ready to get the crop off; the harvest will start coming in hard this week.


With that said, there is some concern about the impact on the harvest of a tropical weather system that could bring rain to some eastern and southeastern areas of the Western Australian wheat belt next weekend, said Musgrave.


If this system stays away, there could be over 100,000 tonnes of wheat a day coming in, which is the expected intake rate.


CBH expects crops in Western Australia to yield around 12 million tonnes from a harvest to be finished by year end.


Typically, wheat accounts for 70 percent of winter grain production in the state, suggesting CBH expects wheat output of about 8.4 million tonnes. Other crops in the harvest include barley, oats and canola.


On Wednesday, the government's chief commodities forecaster, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, estimated wheat production in the state at 7.8 million tonnes, part of estimated national output of 19.9 million tonnes.


Musgrave said the quality of the grain received by CBH so far is quite good, as expected, but it will take some time to analyze the quality of the wider harvest.


Wheat production in Western Australia peaked in 2003 at 11 million tonnes, or about 10 percent of global traded wheat, making the state a potentially major supplier to the world trade.


CBH does not own the grain that farmers deliver to it. Many farmers will choose initially to warehouse the grain, as they can decide later among many potential buyers. But nearly all the grain is handled or stored by CBH as it operates the state's only grain logistics system with 200 upcountry sites and four coastal export terminals.


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