CBH predicts possible 16 million tonne crop for Western Australia as deliveries slow


Western Australia's main grain handler, the CBH Group now predicts it could receive 16 million tonne of grain for the 2016–17 growing season.

That is a considerable increase on expectations from just a fortnight ago.

While deliveries have slowed significantly due to rain over the past week and the majority of farmers cross the state have finished up, general manager of operations David Capper said he was still expecting a couple of hundred thousand tonne to be delivered post Christmas.

"We're at about 15.4 million tonnes right now and we'll have the rest of today and most of tomorrow before we stop for Christmas," he said.

"And I think there's a very good possibility that we could hit 16 million tonne some time before New Year.

    "I think the impact of the frost has been what we expected but I think the crop to start with was bigger than what we anticipated."

Mr Capper said the pace at which deliveries came in this season meant that a number of daily receival records were broken, but also that logistics were tested.

"There are still some areas that are feeling the pressure and I think over the next few days Cranbrook and Albany in particular are really going to feel the pressure," he said.

"Those guys aren't going to get a lot of time off over Christmas, unfortunately we'll have to move a lot of grain around through Christmas and the couple of days after to make sure we're ready to go again Tuesday morning."

A challenging harvest

Mr Capper said the group had also had to make some tough decisions and close sites once they got full.

"We've had to prioritise where we've put our standard gauge rail and unfortunately we couldn't keep every site along the standard gauge alive," he said.

"One of the things you have to remember is we've just announced a $750 million network expansion program which will roll out over the next five years and effectively see in this first phase another two million tonne of storage built.

"The network strategy will provide the additional storage over time and it will continue to evolve and grow as the crop does and it will provide that additional storage."

Mr Capper said there had been a number of successes and shortfalls in season 2016 and they would all be assessed once deliveries cease.

"One thing that's certainly clear is that the crop continues to grow," he said.

"And even though with the network strategy we allowed for some medium-term growth, the average yields seem to be increasing faster than that.

"So that's a key learning that we will need to look at; what is that phase two and how can we accelerate the network strategy to bring that fire and that storage power into the network sooner than initially thought. I think that's the most important thing."


Readers choice: TOP-5 articles of the month by UkrAgroConsult