December 30, 2011


Record harvest boosts Western Australia's bumper wheat crop



The northern Wheatbelt of Western Australia state has reaped a bumper crop and is underpinning the state's next largest winter grains record yield, Cooperative Bulk Handling Ltd. said Thursday (Dec 29).


Deliveries of wheat, barley, rapeseed and other winter grains to unlisted Perth-based CBH, which dominates storage and handling in Western Australia, reached 12.65 million tonnes on Wednesday, eclipsing the previous second-largest intake, set in the crop year ended March 31, 2006, of 12.5 million tonnes, the company said in a weekly harvest report.


To date, around 92% of CBH's in 2011-12 intake - estimated at 13.5 million tonnes, more than double 2010-11's drought-reduced harvest - has been received, CBH said.


Typically, 70% of the harvest is wheat and deliveries to CBH account for 90% of total state production - nearly all of which is exported.


Grain receivals in the northern Geraldton Port zone have reached 3.4 million tonnes, easily exceeding the previous record of 2.6 million tonnes set in 2003-04, it said.


CBH General Manager Operations Colin Tutt said that though the harvest is one of the largest on record, it is also one of the most challenging.


"We have seen significant weather delays and quality issues," he said, also citing a reduction in the performance of rail in hauling grain to port.


"Although the harvest has been pleasing from a production yield perspective, with low grain prices and deteriorating grain quality due to inclement weather events, there will be growers in some districts struggling to make a profit, which is the disappointing part of such a high-production year," Tutt said.


Separately, Viterra Inc. reported the harvest in South Australia slowed in the week ended Sunday due to wet weather, with the company, which dominates upcountry storage and export logistics in that state, having received 6.2 million tonnes of winter grains.


Harvest continues in the state's southeast, with grain receivals proceeding from growers who have finished harvesting but held grain on farms, helping fill the strong export shipping program, it said in a weekly harvest report issued Wednesday.

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