AS harvest gets into full swing across all WA port zones, the outlook for this cropping season continues to improve, with the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) revising total State crop production estimates up to 12.3 million tonnes, with potential for 13mt.
It’s a far cry from last year’s record 16.6mt harvest, but close to a 7pc increase on last month’s GIWA estimates and more than a 2mt improvement on August predictions.
GIWA oilseeds council chairman and author of the latest GIWA crop report, Michael Lamond, said with the exception of the north and north eastern Wheatbelt, the 2017 harvest was now shaping up to achieve average results, rather than ordinary.
He attributed the improvement to late September rains and mild temperatures throughout October which had resulted in a favourable end to the growing season and many crops harvested to date yielding “better than they look”.
“There is definitely more upside and 13 million tonnes is not out of the question,” Mr Lamond said.
“October was just unbelievable for grain fill, those mild temperatures mean that you don’t get heat shock and you get large grain and that can add a lot of tonnes in particular on late-sown crops.
“For the grower there’s quite a bit of variability, so it’s hard to estimate but there’s upside in Esperance, there’s upside in Albany West and The Lakes and in West Kwinana there is probably upside as well.”
Wheat has seen the most significant estimate jump, increasing 9.2pc to just below 6.9mt.
Although very little wheat has been harvested across the State so far, the report indicates it is likely grain yields will be higher than they look with low grain protein.
The outcome is predicted to be similar for barley crops, with early deliveries yielding well, but testing low for protein and some regions have reported germ-end stain.
State barley production is now expected to reach close to 3.2mt – a 4.4pc increase on last month’s estimates.
Mr Lamond said indications were that this trend of low-protein grain would continue due to many growers reducing their nitrogen applications throughout the dry winter and before conditions improved to a far greater extent than was expected.