13/10/2017 - 12:08

Crop production forecast up 12%

13/10/2017 - 12:08

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Cooler conditions and decent rainfall have prompted the grain industry association to boost production forecasts across regional Western Australia by 12.4 per cent.

Crop production forecast up 12%

Cooler conditions and decent rainfall have prompted the grain industry association to boost production forecasts across regional Western Australia by 12.4 per cent.

Along with rainfall and cooler weather, a lower frost impact on crops is expected to help the state to achieve 11.53 million tonnes in production by the end of the season, according to the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia’s latest crop report.

Of that output, the majority will be made up of wheat, with about 6.3mt to be produced, up 12.8 per cent on September forecasts.

However, the 12.4 per cent overall increase still won't be enough for the state to match its record output of 18.2 million tonnes in the previous season.

“Grain size and weight is likely to be very good due to the mild conditions over spring and with minimal impact from frost,” GIAWA said.

“Cereal grain protein is likely to be lower than normal due to the unexpected soft finish to the season.

“Wheat and barley tonnages are now predicted to achieve closer to historical levels resulting in a significant turnaround from just a few months ago.”

The association said canola tonnages were also expected to reach close to record levels, but average grain yields were likely to be lower than normal due to a poor start to the season, which carried through.

Oat production for grain and hay is also expected to fall, with most of the output to be kept on farms, as are lupin tonnages.

“Field peas have not been impacted by frost as has been the case in the last few years and there is noticeably more alternative grain legumes being trialled across the state, although tonnages are low at present,” GIAWA said.

The report came on the same day as the annual Planfarm Bankwest Benchmarks report, which found low prices and severe frost cut into the state’s farming profits in the 12 months to February, despite a record grain haul.

The report analysed data from 550 broadacre farming businesses and found the average farmer made an operating surplus of $667,816, down from $680,227 in the previous corresponding period.

A large global supply of grains caused industry return on capital to fall from 4.7 per cent to 4.2 per cent in the same period.

"In 2016, production was widely expected to be among the highest in many grower's experience," Bankwest state manager WA for rural and regional banking, Richard Bator, said.

But frost damage to crops in the southern-inland region put a dent in profits despite a record 16.6mt wheat harvest.

The frost was a "one in a 10-year event," Wheatbelt farmer Ron Creagh said.

Farmers also had to contend with a fall in domestic grain prices of 10 per cent due to four years of record growth in global wheat harvests and stocks.

And the 2017 growing season has also been tough with farms needing late rain, Mr Creagh said.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development predicts a less than 40 per cent chance the south-west will exceed the median rainfall for October to December while temperatures are likely to be above average.

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