Rain front lifts WA winter crop prospects

Neil Lyon July 4, 2018

WIDESPREAD rain across much of the Western Australian cropping belt over the past couple of days has boosted winter crop prospects, particularly in the northern and central regions.

Indicative rainfall registrations from north to south included: Mullewa 46 millimetres; Coorow 35mm; Badgingarra 86mm; Wongan Hills 55mm; Northam 47mm; Merredin 20mm; Corrigin 38mm; Newdegate 13mm; Ravensthorpe 11mm; and Esperance 11mm.

Consult Ag agronomist at Northam, Geoff Fosbery, said most of the central and northern areas received very useful falls, but registrations on the South Coast were below what growers had been hoping for, “so they are still on the light side”.

Geoff Fosbery

“For the central and northern areas most people are still on track for an average season. It is good to have a high rainfall event for a lot of areas in those two regions to increase subsoil moisture and put some ‘fat’ in the system as far as plant available water is concerned,” he said.

“A lot of the state germinated at the same time because it had the same rain that got the dry-sown crops out of the ground. They started on the same dates, but because it is warmer in the north the crops are developing quicker there than the central and southern areas.”

GrainGrowers WA regional co-ordinator, Alan Meldrum, said the widespread rain had given a boost to winter crops in a lot of areas.

“Crop stages vary. In the northern areas canola is flowering in some patches, but for the most part cereals are around the three to four-leaf stage in the Geraldton area and west coast,” he said.

“There are patchy germinations and still a lot of bare paddocks in the central region and Great Southern across to Esperance.

Alan Meldrum

“Overall for the state it will be a case of the ‘haves’ and ‘havenots’. There is at least average to above average potential over 40 per cent of the state; average potential for 25pc; and whatever is left will be below average at this point.

“But then again, last year we went from ‘zero’ to ‘hero’ very quickly where it started raining in August and went right through to October, so nothing is written off yet.”

Mr Meldrum said the relatively light falls across the central south and south coast over the past couple of days hadn’t done much to alleviate the tough cropping conditions in the area.

“There are patchy germinations and still a lot of bare paddocks in the central region and Great Southern across to Esperance,” he said.

“From Lake Grace to the South Coast around Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun there are bare paddocks and sand erosion. They are having a tough time there.

“There is another front coming through today, but it is localised and will affect the south west corner and won’t do much for the broadacre agricultural areas.”

In its latest crop report issued mid-June, the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) estimated WA growers would put in 8.24 million hectares (Mha) of winter crop this season, including 4.86Mha of wheat, 1.61Mha of barley and 1.09Mha of canola.


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