Dry spell forces canola reseed

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Weather conditions this season have forced many growers in the northern Wheatbelt to reseed canola.

A dry spell in May caused the crops to wilt.

Father and son Murray and Jeremy Brooks, who farm north-east of Yuna, are resigned to less than average returns for their canola after they had to reseed the entire crop.

"We had to reseed all (1300 hectares) of our canola," Jeremy said.

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"We first seeded it in early May when we had some moisture. It had a good germination but then we had a four-week dry spell."

Initially, the Brooks sowed Cobbler and Stingray canola but their resown crop is just Cobbler.

Jeremy said the canola suffered when a storm hit the region in mid-May. The farm received no rain but suffered some wind damage.

"We missed out on the rain but just got the wind," he said.

The family usually averages about one tonne per hectare for canola and Jeremy said he would be happy with half that this season.

He said he had resown canola before but not the entire crop.

The canola was reseeded on June 15 after 40mm of rain fell on the farm.

That rain event was followed by another 60mm in late June, which allowed the canola to germinate evenly. Another 12mm fell on their paddocks this week.

Jeremy said even though the crop looked good, it was too late in the season to expect brilliant yields.

He said the family's 4600ha wheat crop survived the dry spell and looked reasonable and their lupins appeared good but emerged late in the season.

Geraldton Planfarm consultant Cameron Weeks said a lot of growers in the eastern and northern parts of the Mid West had to resow canola.

"Where people have sown canola in May and it didn't have enough rain to survive, they have had to resow," he said.

"There was some rain in late April and early June but the season didn't really get away properly until June 10.

"Some people were still seeding a week after that - I can't imagine that they will get exceptional yields."

Mr Weeks said most growers faced below average yields because the season broke so late.

"The vast majority of the wheat came up after June 10," he said.

"While it looks OK it is a month later than where it should be, so I think we will struggle to get average yields."

The picture for the rest of the State's agricultural areas was similar to the Mid West, with very little moisture throughout the Wheatbelt.

Mr Weeks said solid wheat prices and low inputs would have a positive impact on growers' bottom lines this season.

At the start of the week canola traded at $US620 a tonne.

Gavilon canola trading manager Brian Keay said canola prices would likely stay around this level into the near future.

He said Australian conditions had little impact on the current market rally but the high prices were still positive for WA growers.

"Most of the rally in the prices is being caused by the drought in the US and the impact that's having on corn and soybean yields," Mr Keay said.

"The full extent of the damage in the US is still unknown and the conditions there are still unfavourable.

"Until the market is able to fully digest what the yields are doing in the US, the market should remain supported."

Fast facts *

Who: Jeremy and Murray Brooks

Where: Yuna

What: 4600ha wheat, 1300ha canola, 800ha lupins

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