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WA winter crop heading towards record

by Neil Lyon, 13 August 2018

IT’S not just the wild flowers that have sprung into life in Western Australia. The state’s winter grain crop is going from strength to strength, spurred on by timely growing-season rains that have set the scene for a potential record production year.

In its August crop report, the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) has put a conservative estimate of 15.5 million tonnes (Mt) on WA’s winter crop this season.

That figure already exceeds last year’s 14.27Mt crop, and analysts believe that, if conditions remain favourable, there is still more upside to come, raising the potential for the crop to top the 2016 record of 18.2Mt.

GIWA Oilseeds Council chair and crop report author, Michael Lamond, said with more rain last week, the West was “shaping to be a record year, no matter what happens”.

“We have put (the August estimate) at 15.5 million tonnes. It could easily be higher. I think there is a fair bit of upside at 15.5,” he said.

“We could have put 16 million tonnes in, but backed off to see how the wheat on the eastern side went with this rain. If there are no major frost or heat events it could easily be 18 million tonnes.”

Mr Lamond said growing conditions had been ideal throughout the WA winter cropping belt this year.

“It’s been fantastic. The rains just kept coming regularly since the end of May and it has been warm temperatures, so the crops are bolting up and growing quickly,” he said.

“They are ahead of where they would normally be with that sort of break. Because they have bulked up so well they have more yield potential. It is wall to wall good from one end to the other.”

Mr Lamond said wheat and barley had above average grain yield potential across all areas of the grainbelt except for the south coast and Esperance zones.

“The south has still missed out around Lake King, East Newdegate, Hyden and the Esperance region, but the area that has been dry has contracted back to that area,” he said.

“The whole South Coast from Kendenup and Ongerup right across has really turned around in the last couple of weeks. Whilst the yield potential there is probably below average, things can really hang on down there.”

Mr Lamond said wheat crops in the eastern regions of the Geraldton and Kwinana port zones were as good as they had been for many years.

“These areas can produce a lot of grain in a good year and at present there are no poor spots,” he said.

Mr Lamond said the current good prices for all grains and good growing conditions had encouraged growers to aim for maximum production. Nitrogen fertiliser use had been higher than normal this year resulting in temporary shortages.

Canola production is predicted to be well down on 2017 due to less area planted and poor conditions at seeding still carrying through to date.

The lupin area is up from previous years although wind events at emergence are predicted to keep a lid on total grain yield production.

 

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