Late rain boost to crop yield

Countryman - - NEWS - Melissa Wil­liams

Rain re­ceived across WA’s south and south-east coastal re­gions in the past two weeks has helped re­cover some yield po­ten­tial in many ce­real crops rav­aged by early spring frosts and dry con­di­tions and bol­stered the State’s crop pro­duc­tion fore­cast.

Many grow­ers in the Al­bany and Esper­ance grain re­ceival port zones are now hop­ing their wheat and bar­ley will reach long-term av­er­age yields, up from ex­pec­ta­tions of a well-be­low-av­er­age pro­duc­tion year.

In the seven days to Mon­day this week, Al­bany and Esper­ance recorded 32 and 24mm of rain re­spec­tively. King River had 22mm, Many­peaks 17mm, Ongerup 9mm, Munglinup 4mm, Sal­mon Gums 3mm and Ken­de­nup 2mm.

This fol­lowed falls of 2-30mm in the south-east­ern re­gion dur­ing the pre­vi­ous week and ar­rived just in time to in­crease grain fill, en­cour­age crop tiller­ing and ar­rest yield de­cline af­ter one of the dri­est Septem­ber pe­ri­ods on record for many parts of this area.

Grain In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of WA chair­man Michael La­mond said ini­tial in­dus­try es­ti­mates of WA’s crop losses from con­sec­u­tive frosts in Au­gust and a lack of rain in Septem­ber were about 0.5 to 1 mil­lion tonnes, with bar­ley in south-east­ern ar­eas hard­est hit.

He said this had prompted GIWA to cut its es­ti­mates of a record 3.8mt bar­ley crop for 2018 by about 0.3-0.4mt and scale back wheat and canola crop es­ti­mates by up to 0.2 and 0.1mt re­spec­tively.

But Mr La­mond said early Oc­to­ber rains ap­peared to have halted the slide in ce­real yields and buoyed the out­look for WA’s wheat and bar­ley pro­duc­tion, which could have re­gained as much as 0.5mt.

“One or two sig­nif­i­cant rain­fall events in some ar­eas in the past two weeks came just in time for ce­real crops to re­cover some­what by in­creas­ing grain fill and adding tillers,” he said. “Un­for­tu­nately, the out­look for canola is not as good and GIWA is still es­ti­mat­ing pro­duc­tion to be about 1.4mt.”

GIWA will up­date its WA crop fore­cast in the next two weeks, but Mr La­mond said the State’s grow­ers were now track­ing to pro­duce about 15mt of grain in to­tal, or po­ten­tially more if con­di­tions re­mained cool.

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