No complaints as showers sweep Wheatbelt

29 Sep, 2011 02:00 AM
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Lake King farmer Dirk Hardy received about two millimetres of rain from the showers that moved across the State on Monday.
Lake King farmer Dirk Hardy received about two millimetres of rain from the showers that moved across the State on Monday.

MOTHER Nature has again been kind to farmers in the last week as widespread scattered rains of up to 30 millimetres came down over parts of the Wheatbelt in the early hours of Monday morning.

For those growers looking to get one last rain for their cereal crops it was the icing on the cake but the patchy front still left some like Lake King's Dirk Hardy wanting.

While most of the Wheatbelt received adequate rainfall during August, waterlogging in some western shires and above average temperatures at the beginning of September did nothing but accelerate crop growth in much of the Wheatbelt.

The Geraldton port zone still looks set to harvest well above average yields while areas east of Merredin and around Salmon Gums are tipped to be the main regions least likely to achieve average yields for the 2011/12 season.

While there had so far been no reports of major frost events throughout the State it still remained a very real threat to a number of farmers in the southern and central Wheatbelt.

August rainfall totals were close to average for the South West and much of the Wheatbelt but the eastern South Coast and Esperance regions were still below average.

But for now steady increments of rain during most of September will see well above-average yields for most of WA's grain growing areas.

CBH Geraldton zone manager Duncan Gray said most of the agricultural area had reached near-average seasonal rainfall with the northern region maintaining a wetter than normal pattern.

He said the Geraldton zone was still on track to deliver above average harvest tonnes and the majority of growers would be happy not to get any more rain after Eradu, Mingenew, Canna and Three Springs received between one and one and a half millimetres from Sunday night and Monday morning's scattered showers.

Monthly temperatures over southern WA were also higher than average for the month but it wasn't enough to ward off a couple of small frost events through areas like Wagin and Dumbleyung which also received between two and two and a half millimetres of rain over the weekend.

Throughout the rest of the Albany port zone Narrogin received 1.4mm, Katanning received 3.4mm, Rocky Gully received five millimetres and Mt Barker received 5.8mm.

In the Kwinana zone growers looking for some finishing rain weren't quite so lucky.

Northam received 1.8mm, York received 2.2mm, Merredin received one millimetre and Nungarin received 0.6mm which wasn't enough for growers to close the gate on the season.

Further south Salmon Gums growers were desperately in need of some rain but only recorded a one millimetre average during the weekend.

Farmers at Beaumont were slightly luckier and received about 3.2mm although they didn't need it as much as farmers at Salmon Gums.

Esperance port zone manager Mick Daw said over the last week the Esperance region received between 10 and 15mm while the Lakes district recorded closer to 25 or 30mm in two or three rain events.

"Growers down here basically got nothing out of the weekend's fronts," he said.

"And even if they did it's too late for Salmon Gums and Beaumont now."

Despite the late rain the Esperance port zone was still on track to harvest somewhere between 1.4 and 1.5 million tonnes for the season.

"We received about 1.55mt last harvest but the difference this year is that the Lakes district is performing better than the Esperance region itself," Mr Daw said.

"There has been a bit of a role reversal in this zone during the 2011/12 season."

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