10/06/2019 - 16:03

WA crop area to be lowest in years

10/06/2019 - 16:03

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

Heavy rainfall over the past few days will be good news for WA’s farmers; however, most have already cut back their expected cropping area due to dry weather conditions in recent months.

WA crop area to be lowest in years
Rain over the weekend has been welcome news for farmers. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Heavy rainfall over the past few days will be good news for WA’s farmers; however, most have already cut back their expected cropping area due to dry weather conditions in recent months.

In a report released today, the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) is now projecting 7.94 million hectares of cropping land in 2019, a decline on the 8.17 million hectares projected one month ago.

By comparison, WA grain farmers planted about 8.24 million hectares last year.

The new estimates outlined in the report represent the lowest level of plantings in WA for some years. 

“The subtle shift to pasture from the late [rain], and the increasing profitability of sheep [farming] has seen the total predicted area of crop drop to below 8 [million] hectares for the first time in many years,” the GIWA crop report stated.

Still, rain over the weekend has been welcome news for farmers, with the wet weather likely helping build soil water storage ahead of a dry growing season.

Having experienced some of the lowest rainfall on record, the problem for WA’s farmers has been particularly pronounced in the northern wheatbelt, where rain has come as a relief after severe winds impacted the region earlier in the week.

In the bulk of the wheatbelt, less rain had led to a decline in the sowing of canola and lupin as well as a shift to pasture in the west as dry conditions led to a reduced crop area.

That mirrors a trend towards turning pasturing unused crop area due to the profitability of sheep farming.

Although the rainfall was welcome, its late arrival has reduced expectations for grain yields in the coming season.

With a wetter than usual winter and spring needed to return to average, current modelling indicates this will be a difficult target to meet.

Despite the weekend’s rainfall, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Ian Foster said that the coming growing season will likely be far drier, with the Bureau of Meteorology projecting a neutral outlook for rainfall in the state’s south-westerly regions.

Projecting ahead to September and October, he said that climate modelling indicates that conditions will become drier and warmer.

While researchers in the past have cautioned against projecting weather conditions this far out, Foster says that most models are confident in the development of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole.

Coupled with predicted higher than normal sea level pressures over southern Australia, Ian says this will likely suppress seasonal rainfall over much of Australia.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options