Heavy rain, hail halts harvest

Kate Pollard and Jo FulwoodCountryman

Mother Nature was at her worst last week when hail storms wiped out crops and rain halted harvesting efforts across the grain belt.

Wongan Hills, Dandaragan and Badgingarra were hit hard by hail - the latter of which also recorded 31.6mm of rain in 12 minutes - in what the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) described as a greater than one-in-one hundred-year event.

Badgingarra farmer Andrew Kenny said the storm dumped 60mm of rain on his property in 30 minutes and hail damaged about 1800ha of his wheat, barley, lupins and canola.

Badgingarra Primary School was closed on Friday due to flooding.

"It was amazing how quick it all happened - it was the worst hail storm we've ever seen. We've never had a hail (insurance) claim to this extent before," Mr Kenny said.

"The wheat was probably the most robust, as far as damage goes, but we've still got areas of 100 per cent wheat damage.

"In a lot of places the grain was just knocked out of the head, rather than the whole head being knocked off."

Mr Kenny said his property had received a further 27mm of rain over the weekend.

"We've nearly had 100mm for the week. If it had been May it would have been fantastic," he said.

BOM WA manager of climate services Glenn Cook said last week's weather was caused by a middle level trough that was followed by a cold front moving through the South West over the weekend.

Mr Cook said most rainfall on the weekend was along the west and south coast, with lighter falls inland.

"There is little likelihood of any significant rainfall in the next 10 days, and it should be dry in most parts of the South West," Mr Cook said on Monday.

Beyond that, the outlook for November to December was for a 60 to 70 per cent chance of above-average rainfall.

Mr Cook said given that it was typically a dry time, not a lot of rain was needed to lift the total rainfall to above average.

However, he said it was impossible to say if this type of weather would return in the next few months.

"A similar thing happened last season with late rain affecting crops," Mr Cook said.

In the Great Southern, farmers have been swathing canola up to 10 days earlier than normal because of the seasonal conditions.

But the recent rain has meant some growers will delay harvest until later this week or early next week.

Rainfall *

Rainfall figures for the last week until Monday:

·Burracoppin - 50mm

·Bannister - 22.8mm

·Merredin - 49.8mm

·Trayning - 38.4mm

·Gnowangerup - 8.2mm

·Lake King - 38.4mm

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