Landmark Merredin agronomist Dani Whyte said the extent of damage the frost has caused can’t accurately be determined until farmers start harvesting.A LETHAL combination of a dry September, warm weather and a series of frosts throughout the Wheatbelt have led to CBH dropping its 2012 season estimate to below nine million tonnes.
The figure comes as farmers start to pull their headers out of the shed over the next few weeks, which will give a clearer indication of where the WA crop stands.
CBH operations manager David Capper said as a result of little rain and frost, there were reports that some growers have resorted to cutting wheat crops for hay in the worst affected areas.
The revised 9mt estimate was in stark contrast to last year’s 15mt high, and Mr Capper said CBH continues to adjust its operation and services in accordance with the season.
He said the company was working hard to provide growers with the best service possible, which may mean making the tough decision to scale costs down in some areas.
“It’s really important we’re communicating with growers and growers are communicating with us to ensure we’re providing the right level of service,” he said.
According to Landmark Merredin agronomist Dani Whyte, the extent of damage the frost has caused can’t accurately be determined until farmers start harvesting.
“Some farmers are saying the worst-case scenario would be 25 to 30 per cent of their cereal crops would be affected,” Ms Whyte said.
She added farmers in the Belka Valley region were hit quite hard and it was now a waiting game as to how badly the crops had been affected.
But Ms Whyte said crops in the Merredin, Southern Cross and Westonia region seemed to be hanging in there and the grain was filling out nicely.
Meanwhile ConsultAg agricultural consultant Ben Whisson, Kulin, said throughout the Corrigin, Hyden, Lake King and Lake Grace areas there was varying degrees of loss due to frost, with most farmers experiencing at least some damage.
Mr Whisson said barley crops seemed to have been hit harder than wheat.
Moving further south, Elders Great Southern agronomist Courtney Piesse said the region seems to have come through reasonably unscathed from a few mild frosts since the first bad one on September 23.
“Some of the early barley has been affected but the wheat seems to have snuck by,” Mr Piesse said.
He said accurate identification of frost-affected plants was paramount to ensure farmers didn’t jump the gun and drop crops too early for hay.
One area that was hit hard was Bulyee, where the Marriott family was forced to cut 150 hectares of frost-affected crops for hay, which Rohan Marriot said was immediately obvious four days after the cold snap.
“The plants were 80 to 100pc frosted, so we got the worst of it but there are still patches there,” Mr Marriott said.
He said it was still hard to determine the extent of the damage, but they were anticipating 20 to 30pc of their cereal crops to be affected.
Out at Dunn Rock, Owen Graham said they were also still evaluating their losses, having already cut 80ha of their wheat crop that had been 100pc affected by frost.
“We know that our wheat, barley and canola have been hit, but we’re still evaluating how bad it is,” Mr Graham said.
“The lighter country is definitely a lot worse and I’d imagine we’ve had around 30pc of our crops damaged.”
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