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Resilient’ WA farmers brush-off setbacks to record above average harvest

Frost, hail, bushfires and variable rain have not stopped West Australian farmers recording an above average harvest this season.

The state’s grain handler Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH) said this year’s yield was up about 30 per cent.

“It’s a well above average crop, we’ll probably look to receive about 13 million tonnes this harvest, so a great result given an up and down year,” CBH general manager of operations David Capper said.

“Unfortunately basically having no rain in July and no rain in September, that’s had an impact on the crop, but in saying that, I think we can be fairly pleased with the crop in general.”

In terms of grain quality, the season produced mixed results.

Much of the late harvested wheat was only feed quality because it had been affected by weather.

There was also a lot of feed barley which will be exported to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.

“China is probably going to be less in the market this year because their domestic feed position means they don’t need to import as much feed stock this year as they have done in the past few years,” Mr Capper said.

CBH had forecasted an even greater yield after good summer rainfall through northern and eastern parts of the Wheatbelt, but dry conditions in winter and spring saw estimates drop.

Mr Capper said it was also hard to put a figure on the impact the Esperance fires and associated wind had on the crops.

“The wind that fuelled those fires did more damage to the crop than the fires themselves,” he said.

The estimate for the Esperance region has fallen from 2.9 million tonnes to about 2.5 million tonnes.

“This year has demonstrated again how resilient WA farmers can be and have produced a really good crop on very little rainfall.”

Source; http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-14/wa-produces-better-than-expected-harvest/7027400