Record chill blow to crops
Newdegate recorded its coldest morning on record last Saturday as grain growers count the cost of two frosts at the weekend.
Inland parts of the Great Southern and southern Wheatbelt were hit the hardest, with hundreds of thousands of tonnes to be wiped off the State’s forecast bumper harvest.
Newdegate fell to -4.3 at 6am on Saturday, while other areas including Katanning, Ongerup and Lake Grace fell to below zero.
Nyabing farmer Scott Crosby said his crops had just started flowering when the temperature dropped to -4C, delivering what could turn out to be a big blow to potential yields.
“We were on track for aboveaverage yields. It’s too early to determine damage, but it would be anything between 10 and 50 per cent of our potential in wheat, barley and canola,” he said.
“It certainly would have been worse, however, if our crops were at a more advanced stage.
“We are really just hoping there are not more frosts, but we are nervous with more cold temperatures expected,” he said.
Mr Crosby said he was really hoping for follow-up rains now as this would help counter some of the damage, but nothing was forecast for the next 10 days.
Mr Crosby said if damage was extensive, he would have to cut the cereal crops for hay, but the true impact would not show up for some time yet.
CBH chairman Wally Newman, who farms at Newdegate, said temperatures plunged to -4C in his area — the coldest local temperatures on record. Mr Newman said because crops were at a later stage, meaning flowering had barely started, frost damage to crops in that area would be minimised.
Frosts remain a risk to grain crops for about another two weeks.
Frost on a Lake Grace oval.