Dry September prompts farmers to start canola harvest
Sunny conditions have prompted some northern growers to kick off their 2018-19 harvest program, with canola swathing under way in parts of the Mid West.
Geraldton grower Warren Treasure made a tentative start to swathing on Sunday, against a backdrop of sky-high wheat prices and a drier-than-average September.
The shining light of grain production in WA this year is the Geraldton Port Zone and parts of the Kwinana Port Zone, where some growers say they are on track to harvest above-average yields.
However, growers in the Lakes district and other pockets of WA are still reeling from a series of devastating frost events about three weeks ago.
Industry has not settled on a figure of just how much grain was damaged by the September frosts, with best estimates at 500,000 tonnes and worst up to one million tonnes.
Grains Industry Association of WA spokesman Michael Lamond said parts of the Geraldton Port Zone had started to swath canola after a dry September.
“It has been a dry September, so it is a bit earlier than people were hoping,” he said.
“The next blast of warm weather will really get things cranking off, but that could be another week or so.”
Light rainfall during the past week capped off an unusually dry September across most of the South West Land Division.
Bureau of Meteorology figures showed the month’s rainfall was “very much below average” at almost all of WA’s grain-growing areas, scaling back industry harvest estimates.
Mr Lamond said there was industry speculation the dry conditions could downgrade WA’s grain harvest to 14 million tonnes, down from earlier estimates of 16.3 million tonnes.
“Dry conditions have taken the top off ...” he said.
“Wheat isn’t going to yield as much as people were hoping.
“Recent rainfall has helped a lot, most of the crops weren’t too far gone for it to still make a difference.
“But we have lost crops to the frost and weather has played a part in downgrading their potential.”
SEPTEMBER RAINFALL HIGHS
- Condingup 58mm
- Coomalbidgup 52mm
- Badginarra 31mm
- Wagin 28mm
- Narembeen 27mm
- Kendenup West 26mm
- Broomehill 25mm
- Williams 24mm
- Frankland 20mm
- Darkan 17mm
- Moora 16mm
- Beacon 13mm
- Mukinbudin 13mm
SEPTEMBER RAINFALL LOWS
- Bencubbin 11mm
- Wongan Hills 11mm
- Hyden 11mm
- Kellerberrin 10mm
- Newdegate 8mm
- Morawa 6mm
- Quairading 6mm
- Kalannie 5mm
- Pingaring 5mm
- Merredin 4mm
- Holt Rock 4mm
- Perenjori 4mm
- Kulin 3mm
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