Geraldton zone smashes grains record in bumper WA harvest

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
CBH's Mingenew receival point has received more than 600,000 tonnes this harvest.
Camera IconCBH's Mingenew receival point has received more than 600,000 tonnes this harvest. Credit: Supplied

Milestones continue to fall in a remarkable season for the WA grains industry, with CBH’s Geraldton zone breaking its all-time tonnage record last week.

The 3.55 million tonne record was surpassed about 1pm on Thursday as farmers delivered 47,000 tonnes to the booming stockpile.

By Friday, Geraldton edged past the 3.6mt mark in a bumper season for Mid West grain farmers.

Yields from this season’s crop are up more than 25 per cent on the previous year, where farmers brought in more 2.82mt.

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A handful of CBH sites — including Northampton and Binnu — closed last week as they reached full capacity

CBH Geraldton zone general manager Duncan Gray said it was an incredibly exciting time for the whole industry.

“We are very much a boom-and-bust zone in regard to tonnages,” he said.

“But when it goes of like this year, and with prices where they are, it’s really satisfying.”

CBH Group Geraldton Port Zone manager Duncan Gray.
Camera IconCBH Group Geraldton Port Zone manager Duncan Gray. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

Mr Gray said most farmers would be over the moon with the result, but a small group of Mid West grain growers didn’t enjoy bumper returns.

“About 90 per cent of them will be overwhelmed, but there’s 5-10 per cent probably didn’t do as well as last year.”

Harvest bans and power outages disrupted farmers last week in areas like Northampton and Perenjori, with Mr Gray expecting a few to be working past Christmas.

“I reckon there is probably another 150,000-200,000 tonne out there,” he said.

“There will be some that finish up before Christmas and a small amount going after Christmas and new year.”

Harvest time at Mingenew CBH.
Camera IconHarvest time at Mingenew CBH. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/RegionalHUB

Geraldton Port workers have also been kept incredibly busy this year, with CBH recently loading its 15h vessel for 2021.

CBH shipped 422,000 tonnes of grain in November — another record for the Geraldton zone.

Mr Gray said his team were on track so ship another 400,000 tonnes in December.

“We are at the state where we are going to have to start accumulating more tonnes by road and rail because the grower receivals are starting to fall away,” he said.

“Overall we have handled the port and the two country sites near the airport very well to get the crop in.”

WA farmers are expected to make history and deliver more than 20mt this year — which would be the biggest harvest in Australian history — in an $8 billion windfall for the State economy.

This harvest is tipped to smash WA’s 2018 record by 17 per cent.

CBH said it posted a $133.8 million surplus for the year ending September 30 off the back of strong global demand for grain.

Last week CBH’s long-standing harvest record of 16.4mt toppled when deliveries across its receival network reached 16.6mt.

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