Fronts deliver good rain to most areas

Fronts deliver good rain to most areas


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GOOD follow up rains across the agricultural area on Thursday and Friday last week have further boosted crop prospects, but there was a risk of frosts this week with a high pressure ridge stationary over the lower half of the State.

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Alex O'Callaghan,14, is pictured standing in a canola paddock, with the crop just out of the ground, on his family's farm at Marchagee on Monday, but wheat and barley crops are looking good after 30mm of rain last week. Photograph by Michael O'Callaghan.

Alex O'Callaghan,14, is pictured standing in a canola paddock, with the crop just out of the ground, on his family's farm at Marchagee on Monday, but wheat and barley crops are looking good after 30mm of rain last week. Photograph by Michael O'Callaghan.

GOOD follow up rains across the agricultural area on Thursday and Friday last week have further boosted crop prospects, but there was a risk of frosts this week with a high pressure ridge stationary over the lower half of the State.

A front moving in from the coast on Thursday last week brought falls of up to 54 millimetres across much of the Wheatbelt, with Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) weekly statistics showing the Northern and Eastern Wheatbelt regions received the best falls outside of the metropolitan area, where coastal suburbs such as Swanbourne were drenched by up to 94mm.

Parts of the Great Southern and the coastal strip to Esperance received good rains over the weekend, but with the Ravensthorpe area the only major omission - it received only 1.2mm for the weekend.

BoM weekly rainfall statistics show until 9am Friday Gingin Airport received 54mm and Eradu and Mingenew in the Mid West received 53 and 52mm respectively.

Also in the Mid West, Yuna received 37mm, Carnamah 36mm, Perenjori 32mm and Goodlands 30mm until 9am Friday.

Across the Central Wheatbelt rainfalls to Friday morning included 47mm at Wongan Hills, 42mm at Goomalling, 38mm at Meckering, 36mm at Cunderdin and 35mm at Yearling and Pingelly.

Further east falls tended to be lighter with 27mm recorded at Corrigin, 26mm at Lake King and Bencubbin, 24mm at Westonia and 23mm at Merredin, Newdegate and Lake Grace.

Along the South Coast, Albany received 36mm to 9am Friday and a further 48mm over the remainder of Friday and Saturday, Ongerup received 20mm on Friday and Esperance - which only received 3.8mm to 9am Friday - received 24mm over the weekend.

BoM duty forecaster Tisha Winstanley confirmed last week's front delivered widespread good rains but a second, weaker cold front brushing the South Coast on Monday evening provided very little.

"If you got more than 5mm out of that one you were lucky," Ms Winstanley said.

She said this second front was followed by a high pressure ridge which was expected to intensify and remain stationary over southern WA until today, Thursday, July 11.

"There will be light winds and dry, stable weather conditions - good for spraying, I'm told," Ms Winstanley said.

"But with a high pressure ridge comes an increased risk of frosts."

Ms Winstanley said with overnight minimum temperatures predicted to be between two and five degrees Celsius across the Wheatbelt this week until today, it was likely some areas would experience frosts.

At Marchagee, in the Mid West region, Michael O'Callaghan said his cereal crops were "looking brilliant" after a further 30mm last Thursday into Friday, but lupins and canola growth was slow.

"We had 30mm last week - on July 5 - which took our total rainfall since the opening break on June 7 to 112mm and we're pouring the nitrogen on now," Mr O'Callaghan said.

"But prior to the opening break we had only had 10mm for the year," he said.

"We haven't had as much (rain) as some others and we've got no trouble getting onto paddocks here - if anyone walked into the pub and said they'd got bogged I'd say they were bragging.

"The cereals are looking brilliant - wheat and barley are very good - but lupins and canola are looking quite poor.

"I was looking through some photos the other day and in 2016 our canola was a metre to one and a half metres high by this time.

"At the moment it's only two to three centimetres (high) - it's bloody slow, it doesn't like the conditions."

Mr O'Callaghan said the growing season was running about four weeks later than ideal and about two weeks later then he would have preferred from a late start.

He said no further local rain was predicted in the long range forecast for the remainder of this month, but August was "looking pretty good".

"I'm predicting we'll get 80mm in August - somebody has to," he joked.

"The crops on the good clay soils will handle that (rainfall) gap this month no problem, but those on the poorer sand will be looking for some more moisture in two to three weeks.

"We've got both soil types on the farm here," Mr O'Callaghan said.

Ravensthorpe farmer Andy Chambers had his first double digit rain of the year, after he received 15-17mm up until Friday last week.

"Finally it has come through enough to get into dual figures," Mr Chambers said.

"The crops we sowed early dry had four or five mls on them every now and then and had germinated and were looking quite good considering the year, but (earlier last week) those crops were looking blue and laying on the ground.

"So it was timely to get that rain for those crops.

"It is not wet still and it needs to keep raining because the plants are getting bigger and will start using more water so now we really need it to get wet to keep them going."

Mr Chambers said water supplies were still an issue in the area.

"The Water Corporation is carting water to the Mt Short tank and that has been good and we have picked up some loads out of there every now and then," Mr Chambers said.

"There are still guys around that haven't got a dam on their place that has reasonable water in them.

"For cropping over the next year we are going to run into serious problems if we don't get some good flow somewhere.

"It is not just Ravi, it goes right up into the Lakes and across to Jerdacuttup.

"All that it needs to solve it is a big rain, but more infrastructure needs to be put in to ensure we don't get in this situation again."

At Jerramungup, Bill Bailey said he received nearly 20mm up until Friday morning.

"I am a lot happier today than I was a couple of weeks ago that's for sure," he said.

"The crops are still going OK, all in all it is not too bad around here we can't complain.

"We have a bit of pasture, we have been feeding sheep because it has been pretty cold and you can't let the sheep get on top of the pasture otherwise you get hurt in spring.

"It is better to feed sheep now and put some urea on and get the pastures away.

"Cropping-wise it is not going to be a ball tearer, but if we can pull an average one then we will be happy, given what it looked like early on."

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