WESTERN Australia is still looking at its biggest ever barley planting this year, according to the Grain Industry Association of WA's (GIWA) latest crop report.
According to the report, the crop area mix had changed little in the past month.
It said the trend to increasing barley has eventuated in most areas, except the north, the canola and lupins area was down, oats for hay were up in traditional hay areas and pasture/fallow area was up.
"The wheat area has continued to be substituted by barley and, due to the late start, country has been left out that was initially to be sown to wheat," the report said.
"Wheat area is likely to be historically low at less than 52 per cent of the total crop area in 2019 and this will be the largest area of barley planted for the State on record at 1.91 million hectares.
"The subtle shift to pasture from the late break, and the increasing profitability of sheep has seen the total predicted area of crop drop to below eight million hectares for the first time in many years."
GIWA said the later than ideal start to the growing season for most and lack of sub-soil moisture meant that winter and spring were going to need to be better than normal to return average grain yields.
"Many crops in the southern half of the State had germinated from the light mid-May rainfall and were sitting just under the soil surface when the rain arrived on the weekend," it said.
"These crops will have the jump on those germinating now although with some reduced vigour.
"Most crops in the north of the State have had no rain whatsoever until now and the transition zone between north and south has seen many crops that did germinate earlier fail, needing to be re-sown or left with low plant density."
In terms of zones, the rain over the weekend was a welcome relief from the severe winds last Thursday in the Geraldton zone.
GIWA said any country that did not have stubble cover blew, resulting in furrow fill and topsoil shifting in the wind.
"Most growers had finished or were close to finishing seeding when the rain arrived," it said.
"There may be some extra paddocks go in now, although as a percentage of the total area it will be small.
"Up until the recent rains, there had been no rain at all for most of the region and growers were dropping off the last few paddocks in their programs.
"In the eastern areas some were being left to fallow and to pasture for livestock in the western areas.
"The area dropped out to pasture or fallow has only been small with estimates around 5pc."
In the Kwinana zone, seeding was pretty well wrapped up for growers in the majority of the zone when the rain arrived and while there was a lot of changing around of crop types in paddocks from original plans, the area left out to pasture or fallow was unchanged significantly from last month's projections.
"Due to the lack of any rain until now it has resulted in swings away from canola and lupins, more Imi barley sown for weed control and changing of rotations back to barley on barley or wheat on wheat as the risk of cereal volunteers is greater without rain prior to planting," GIWA said.
"This region is a major malt barley and Noodle wheat growing region and the risk of downgrade from cross contamination can be too high."
In the west of the Kwinana zone, crops sown dry on the light country were partly emerged or just sitting under the surface following rain in early and mid-May.
"The heavier country looked bare although most crops had sprouted and were sitting under the surface and will pop out of the ground very quickly following this rain," GIWA said.
"While the opening rains this year are 10 days later than last year, crops will only be slightly behind in growth stage by the end of this week.
"There are patches of the region where crops are more advanced than others from slightly more rain over the past six weeks, although for the most part crops were not growing until this rain arrived.
"Most of the zone has now had up to 30 millimetres and crops will really take off until soil temperatures drop over the next few weeks.
"There has been a 10pc increase in barley plantings in the Kwinana zones and most of this increase has been in the western areas of the region."
GIWA said the recent rainfall to date dropped off to the east of this zone and these regions would need substantially more rain to reach average potential yield with such a late start.
"Many crops had germinated and were sitting under the soil as was the case for most areas south of here," it said.
"These regions had more rain earlier than further north and south resulting in less area left out to fallow or pasture than you would expect from a late break."
The area of canola and lupins has dropped by as much as 20 to 30pc in area from last year as previously reported due to the late break to the season.
In the Albany zone, the majority of growers had finished or were close to finishing seeding by the weekend, with most crops either emerged or close to emerging.
"Canola is generally a bit patchy although most cereals have or will emerge evenly," GIWA said.
"Some areas in the west of the zone have had little rain and as you move east the total amount of rain up until now was lower and more uneven across the district.
"As you move north and east in the district the rainfall has been less and there has been more of a substitution from canola to barley.
"There has been a slight increase in barley plantings, less wheat, slightly less canola, and a small increase in grain legumes in the district."
In the south of this zone, GIWA said the majority of the region was in good shape with 90pc of the canola up and some of the earlier sown canola crops approaching budding.
"Most cereals are sown and either up or emerging," GIWA said.
"Most of the cereals are also in good shape with 95pc sown to date and 80-90pc of those emerged."
In the Lakes region most of the zone had between 8 to 12mm of rain in mid-May and crops sown dry at that point emerged or sprouted and were sitting under the soil surface.
"Up to 20pc of intended crop paddocks on some farms were unsown prior to the weekend's rain as much of the heavy country was too tight to sow," GIWA said.
"Now it has rained, some of this country may go into cereal with the remainder left out to pasture for stock feed.
"There has been a lot of handfeeding of livestock and for those growers with stock more paddocks are being left out to pasture than normal."
Rainfall has been lighter in the Esperance zone and events of between 5 to 30mm for most of the zone in the last few weeks had seen crops either germinate and sit under the surface, or emerge.
"The gradient of rainfall from the coast to the north was quite steep and most areas in the dryer northern areas have had no useful rainfall until the last few days," it said.
"The western areas of the zone have also missed out on the storms in May and more recent rainfall events, although about 50pc of crops have managed to emerge."