Rainfall brings hope for early crops
WA grain farmers have breathed a sigh of relief after rain finally arrived across most areas of the Great Southern and Wheatbelt.
Grains Industry Association of WA spokesman Michael Lamond said the rain counted as the season break or general opening rains for many and restored farmers’ confidence after a particularly dry spell since the start of April. Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Neil Bennett said many areas had below-average rainfall since the start of April.
In some cases, rainfall levels were the lowest on record for April and the first few weeks of May.
As a result, farmers were feeling jittery that newly sown crops might not germinate, particularly frustrating given summer rains meant there was plenty of subsoil moisture which would be available to crops once roots were deeper.
Mr Lamond said with at least 10mm falling across most areas, and more showers forecast over this weekend, crops would germinate and confidence had been restored.
“We now have rain for the early crops, and a lot of subsoil moisture.
“You don’t get much better than that,” he said. Aaron Dupe, a cropping manager at Karingal Farm in Gnowangerup, said confidence picked up after the property received 6.5mm on Thursday night last week. Thursday night’s rainfall followed 9mm four days earlier.
But it was mixed fortunes, with some farms, particularly north and north-east of Geraldton and on the eastern fringes of the Wheatbelt, missing out on rain.
Mr Lamond said some pockets in the eastern fringe areas were particularly dry and those farmers needed rain by this weekend or yields would be less than forecast.
The bureau was not forecasting this area would receive significant rain at the weekend.
Mr Lamond said about 60-70 per cent of WA’s crop was now planted and seeding was likely to wrap up in about 10 days.