With one of the earliest finishes to a Geraldton harvest in recent memory, local farmers are now counting the cost of a haul that was less than half of last season’s record total. Geraldton, along with the rest of the State, experienced a marked decline in grain deliveries this season. The local season ended with a total of 1.497 million tonnes compared to last year’s record haul of 4Mt — a reduction of almost two-thirds. The biggest decline came from wheat production, which was about 2.9Mt in 2022 and fell to 1.15Mt in 2023. The major drop-off is in line with what has happened around WA, with the State total dropping by 10.498Mt to 14.279Mt, or a 42 per cent reduction from last year’s record tally of 24.747Mt. According to the Grain Industry Association of WA crop report for 2023, harvest for Geraldton wrapped up at its earliest in recent years, around mid-December. Geraldton produced just half the canola compared to 2022 and 80 per cent less lupins than the year prior. Crop report author Michael Lamond said while 2023 was down on recent years, the past five years had been a boom. “We are only about 40 per cent of the total tonnes of 22 . . . a big drop, but in historical terms, if you look at the last five years, we’ve had some real crackers of years,” he said. “We’ve had three over 80 million tonnes, which were all records . . . so we are just used to the higher numbers, but if you go back 10 years, 14 or 15 million tonnes wasn’t a bad year.” The biggest reason for the drop was the poor rain that WA got throughout harvest, causing crops to suffer. “It was just rain, it just didn’t rain, no subsoil moisture and virtually a lot of growers received less then 100mil, which is just not enough to grow a crop,” Mr Lamond said. Mr Lamond said the reasons that harvest in Geraldton finished earlier than in previous years were the early start for the Mid West and the poor rain. “Because it was a poor spring the crops just finished earlier . . . it also started earlier than normal, it was one of the earliest starts ever,” he said. “At least two weeks, some areas in Geraldton started maybe a month earlier than normal.” Mr Lamond said despite the lacklustre season, many farmers were prepared for it after experiencing such good years previously. “The growers going into ‘23 were very risk averse anyway, because they had these good years, they are very conscious, they didn’t want to lose what they’ve gained in the last few years,” he said.