Dry forecast poses seeding conundrum

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeThe West Australian
Rainfall - totals that have a 75 per cent chance of occurring for June.
Camera IconRainfall - totals that have a 75 per cent chance of occurring for June. Credit: Bureau of Meteorology

The dry forecast for June across many parts of the grainbelt has some farmers wondering whether to pull up or pack away seeders entirely.

The seasonal break at some areas last month seems long ago and parts of the Wheatbelt’s eastern fringe are still waiting for significant rain.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook, who farms at York, has recorded just 12mm during the past 10 weeks at his mixed-farming operation.

It was one of the areas the Bureau of Meteorology forecast had a 75 per cent chance of receiving 10-25mm of rain in June.

Mr Seabrook said both livestock and grain producers in his area were beginning to feel the pinch.

“We have not had a pasture germination to date,” he said.

“If you have been lucky you have had a solid rain and a break, but a lot of farmers in the eastern Wheatbelt are wondering whether to keep seeding or not.

“Those really up against it are the ones that have had no rain and have producing ewes.”

The long-range forecast for WA from May to July indicated lower rainfall and warmer temperatures for much of Australia, including the south of WA.

BoM’s June climate outlook predicted a 75 per cent chance of 10-25mm falling at Morawa, Dalwallinu, Newdegate, Bruce Rock, Lake Grace, South Kumminin, Beacon and surrounds.

Areas with a 75 per cent chance of receiving 25-50mm in June include Narrogin, Brookton, Katanning, Northam, Moora, Broomehill and Kukerin.

Mr Seabrook said farmers had planned their cropping programs carefully. “I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t put a crop in — and some put a lot in given the subsoil moisture,” he said. “But I think there would be a lot thinking this isn’t the year to go for broke.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails