Planting records tumble for the big gamble

28 May, 2008 10:44 AM
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PROFARMER has released its annual crop planting survey results for the 2008 season, forecasting records will tumble across the nation.

The survey of grain growers by Australia’s leading agricultural newsletter indicates WA will produce a wheat crop 15pc bigger than the previous season.

ProFarmer is also predicting a whopping 60pc jump in the canola area seeded by WA growers.

The land given over to barley is also expected to increase by 14pc.

Across the country wheat plantings are forecast to rise in every state, resulting in a 13pc increase in the national planting from 2007, as growers scramble to extract rare profits from record high grain prices.

ProFarmer managing director Richard Koch said if this increase represented a national movement it would equal plantings of about 13.9 million hectares, well above the previous record of 13.1m/ha in 2004-05.

However, CBH has warned it has strong concerns about making such bold early season predictions, especially given the recent dry conditions.

CBH operations manager Michael Musgrave said the forecasts appeared "quite optimistic" and warned against the dangers of having high expectations in the face of a modest rain outlook.

He said after good early season rain in April, WA’s growing conditions had declined during May and proven disappointing.

Mr Musgrave said May had produced only about a third of its average rainfall.

"After record rainfall in April we are well behind now," Mr Musgrave said.

"At CBH we are quite concerned about this situation.

"Our reporting indicates that it is quite dry in certain areas of the Wheatbelt, and in particular there has not been a lot of rain in an area from Koorda in the north through to Esperance in the south.

"They still have some good subsoil moisture in the northern agricultural region but quite a few of the growers up that way are now becoming quite concerned."

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