Southern Wheatbelt farmers smash harvest records after a “perfect” year

Isabel Vieira Narrogin Observer
Harvest at Ashley Weise's farm.
Camera IconHarvest at Ashley Weise's farm. Credit: Ashley Wiese

Southern Wheatbelt grain growers have smashed harvest records, with Highbury farmer Ashley Wiese one of many who have enjoyed their biggest harvest ever.

WA grain growers reached the 20 million tonne milestone by the end of 2021 and are charging towards the predicted harvest total of 22.1m tonnes.

The State’s 3990 grain growers had delivered 20.42m tonnes to the CBH Group Network by January 3 with more grain still to come, especially in the south of WA.

Mr Wiese said it was close to a perfect year with early seeding and good rain.

Highbury farmer Ashley Wiese stands amongst Bannister oats during harvest. The canola and hay baling program on the farm is already completed and Mr Wiese expects to finish the 2000ha oats for grain program by December 8. 12 NOVEMBER 2019 Picture: Danella Bevis The West Australian
Camera IconHighbury farmer Ashley Wiese is one of many Southern Wheatbelt grain growers to have smashed harvest records. Credit: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

“There was no hot weather to dry the crops out prematurely, so the crops had every opportunity to perform,” he said.

“We farm both east and west of Highbury. Our western farm definitely suffered some water logging and we lost some yield where it got too wet.

“But generally speaking our yields are well up on average and we broke some records.”

Several CBH receival sites in the southern Wheatbelt forged new daily records this season.

Narrakine broke its daily record after receiving 18,459 tonnes on December 21, while Wickepin surpassed its record with 7493 tonnes on December 10.

Both of those sites also broke their all-time records for a season, with Narrakine receiving 416,042 tonnes and Wickepin 197,206 tonnes.

Mr Wiese said they achieved new best yield averages for several of their crops.

“We normally allocate 20 per cent of our cropping area to producing export oaten hay, but because of the trade issues we didn’t cut any hay and harvested that extra area,” Mr Wiese said.

“On top of that, our yields were up on average so we produced the most grain we have ever done before.

“We also achieved our best yield averages on canola, oats and wheat.”

While the 2021-22 harvest has been a resounding success, Mr Wiese said he was concerned about the impact of rising import costs on next season.

“Our biggest challenge now is how we tackle this year, particular with fertiliser prices 300 per cent higher than the past year,” he said.

“We are having a really close look at our rotations for next year and with import costs so much greater we will probably be pulling back on some of our cropping paddocks that don’t look to be too productive.

“We might run more sheep and spread them out over more hectares and have more pastures.

“We will probably grow more legumes to grow nitrogen naturally by sewing legume crops.”

But for now, he and his family were looking forward to celebrating a bumper harvest.

“I think we had a really sweet year. We had good production, grain prices have been good and imports costs have been quite low,” he said.

“It’s one of those years where everything lined up really well, so it will be nice to now go on holiday and celebrate.”

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