Rain too late to save crops

Brad Thompson and Tayissa BaroneThe West Australian

Soaking rain throughout most of the Wheatbelt has boosted harvest hopes but came too late to save crops on the eastern edge of the region.

Perth had its biggest August downpour in a decade yesterday and heavy rain in the South West caused several rivers to flood.

In the Wheatbelt, Southern Cross farmer Wayne Della Bosca said the rain had reached the bone-dry north of the Yilgarn Shire but his crops were already dead.

Mr Della Bosca said the rain had lifted spirits and raised hopes that paddocks with a tinge of green pasture might recover over time to allow farmers to re-stock after moving thousands of sheep out of the district.

Yilgarn shire president Romolo Patroni joked this week that when Noah built the ark it rained for 40 days and 40 nights but Southern Cross only got 10mm. It had recorded about 14mm to 5pm yesterday.

Muntadgin farmer Jeff Hooper said his property had about 23mm of "invaluable" rain in recent days and was on target for a reasonable harvest.

The rain came as Rabobank grains analyst Graydon Chong warned of yield losses in the eastern Wheatbelt and far northern Wheatbelt, which missed out on a soaking yesterday.

However, Mr Chong said grain growers in the Albany and Esperance port zones were on target for good yields.

Rabobank is predicting a harvest of 7.8 million tonnes for WA compared with the record 15.1 million tonnes produced in 2011-12.

South West cattle producer John Fry said the rain had brought with it "the best flood in almost 50 years".

"It is good to see winter back to how I remember it when I was a young fella," the 64-year-old said.

Mr Fry's family farm at Donnybrook includes a dam across the northern bank of the upper Capel River, which overflowed two weeks ago.

"I've been monitoring this water flow all my life and this is best flood we've had since 1964," he said.

"We have had 220mm in 14 days and that is rare. It is good to remember how things used to be."

However, South West persimmon grower Marilyn Dreaver was counting the cost after rising waters claimed half her farm.

Mrs Dreaver said water from the nearby Thomson Brook had cut off access to a bridge connecting parts of the Brookhampton property.

Despite the damage to her certified organic property, Mrs Dreaver said the rain had brought her at least one smile when she discovered fish swimming in her overflowing chicken pen.

The rain gave at least one person cause to jump for joy. Four-year-old Samuel Kelly put on the wellies and waded into the puddles out the front of his Broadwater home in Busselton.

Samuel's mum Georgiana said it was hard to tear him away from splashing in the flood water.

In Perth, the wet weather wreaked havoc on the roads with most major routes leading to the city resembling carparks throughout the morning.

A 38-year-old mother remains in a critical condition after a crash in Helena Valley just after 6am yesterday. Her passengers, a 19-year-old woman, an 18-year-old man and an eight-year-old girl, are recovering in hospital.

In the 24 hours to 9am yesterday Perth had 45.4mm of rain, just short of the 48.4mm that fell on August 11, 2003.

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

Sign up for our emails