Rain adds area, brightens yield prospects: GIWA report

Grain Central June 14, 2024

A barley crop off to a good start at Salmon Gums in WA’s Esperance zone. Photo: Tim Starcevich

RECENT rain has greatly improved prospects for the Western Australian crop now in the ground, according to the Grain Industry Association of WA’s June report.

Released publicly today, the report has estimated planted area at 8,748,000ha, up 280,000ha from its May estimate, and says WA appears to be on track for an average or better year.

“Several rainfall events over the last two weeks in WA have ensured crops that were sown dry will germinate, and crop that was up will now have at least a chance of returning reasonable grain yields,” report author Michael Lamond said in the report.

At the start of June, various areas of the state were still very dry, and the majority of crops, particularly in the central and northern growing regions of WA, had not germinated fully.

“The rain events initially missed the extremely dry northern and central eastern grain-growing regions and the majority of the Esperance port zone, although as more rain fronts came through, those areas all received good soaking rains.”

Mr Lamond said the only the southern coastal higher-rainfall zones have continued to miss out, but other regions have largely regrouped.

“Due to the unseasonally warm soil temperatures, crops are bouncing out of the ground and making up time in growth stage.

“The result is we are now on track for at least an average year rather than a well below-average year, as was the case just a few days ago.”

Mr Lamond said rain in the past five days in particular has “completely turned around the chances of growers reaching average grain yields” in the northern portions of the Geraldton port zone, where there was no crop up.

The rain has also saved prospects in large areas of the low-rainfall East Kwinana port zone, north of the Great Eastern Highway, where very little crop had germinated.

Mr Lamond said crops in the remainder of the state that had germinated were mostly patchy, with germination closely related to soil types, with the heaver soils generally poor.

“These crops have already started to even up from the recent rain and where crops had previously come through with an even germination, they are in good shape now.

The estimated crop area has increased a little from last month as growers continued to sow paddocks as the forecast for rain began to look more promising.

“The increase in area has mostly been in wheat, and resulted from some resowing of poorly germinated canola paddocks and an extra paddock or two swapped from fallow and pasture.”

“With temperatures forecast to be warmer than average this winter due to abnormally high sea-surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean, there is the potential for cereal crops to make up enough ground to yield well, even after such a late break to the season.”

In order to achieve this, Mr Lamond said rain will need to keep falling, because soil-moisture profiles are still very dry in most places, and the finish will need to be mild.

“It is a different story for the break crops, with most canola crops in the medium and low-rainfall regions down on plant density, and germinating too late to reach profitable yields.

“Lupins are in the same boat, and many north of the Great Eastern Highway are already destined to be brown manured.”

Source: GIWA

Further detail on crop conditions in individual WA port zones can be found as part of the full report on the GIWA website. 


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