Estimates point to more wheat planted

Estimates point to more wheat planted

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The estimated area cropped to wheat in Western Australia has jumped seven per cent since June according to the latest Grain Industry Association of WA's (GIWA) crop report.

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THE estimated area cropped to wheat in Western Australia has jumped seven per cent since June according to the latest Grain Industry Association of WA's (GIWA) crop report.

In its June summary, GIWA estimated that 4.28 million hectares of wheat had been sown across the growing area, that was revised up to 4.58mha in its July report.

This increase has come solely through the Kwinana zone with 300,000ha of extra wheat estimated to have being planted in that region.

Barley estimates also increased by 2.1pc with the June report pegging those at 1.910mha, while last week's report suggested this would grow to 1.950mha.

This increase has been driven solely by the Albany zone which has gone from 640,000ha of barley in the previous report to 680,000ha in the most recent one.

Estimates for canola, lupins, oats and pulses remained unchanged from the previous report and for total hectares an increase of 4.3pc to 8.278mha is estimated for plantings in WA.

Crop report author Michael Lamond said the majority of the WA grainbelt was now in good shape and most areas could achieve average grain yields if the rain kept up.

"For the northern half of the State it will need to be a soft finish to hit average grain yields as the crops are very late for this time of the year," Mr Lamond said in the report.

"The southern areas have generally less subsoil moisture and are behind their ideal growth stage, although the chances of a soft finish are greater moving closer to the southern regions, and most growers are looking forward to at least average grain yields.

"Crops were very slow to emerge and most cereals that germinated on the opening rains in June are only just starting to tiller.

"The emergence of cereals has been excellent in most cases and weed control from the pre-emergent herbicides very good for all crops.

"Canola has really struggled in the central and northern areas and has only just started to pile on true leaves in the last week.

"Crops in regions where there were light rainfall events in May, and subsequent crops which sprouted and sat in the ground until the main break in June, came up patchy and are more staggered in growth stage than later sown crops.

"This is more evident as you move south to the south coastal regions where some canola is only just emerging and some cereals are flowering with anywhere from early tillering to first node.

"Due to the pattern of rainfall events to date, the south eastern areas of the State radiating out from Ravensthorpe, are again light on for rain and while the crops are up, it is the only area of the State that has not achieved average or above average rainfall since the break of the season in June.

"The turnaround in predicted planted areas from last month's report has been greater than expected.

"Paddocks that were held back due to little or no rain up until the end of May due to the uncertainty of the season and weed control risk, mostly ended up being planted.

"The majority of the later sown paddocks have gone to wheat and while some of the heavier country was left out to pasture, most growers opted to go ahead with their planned seeding programs.

"The drop off in canola area this year looks to be as predicted and the increase in barley looks to have eventuated as well."

In terms of zones, the report said crops were late in the northern agricultural zones and it was going to need to be a soft finish to return greater than average grain yields for cereals.

"Rain over the last few days has contributed to the medium and higher rainfall zones now having a 'bucket' to assist in finishing crops in the spring - this drops off moving east," Mr Lamond said.

"Cereal emergence has been very good as most were sown dry and the break of the season came with nice steady falls of rain over several days.

"This assisted in the very good early weed control from the pre-emergent herbicides.

"Most growers are fertilising for long-term average cereal grain yields.

"Canola is mostly only just at two true leaves and has a long way to go to hit one tonne a hectare."

It appears growers that stopped sowing dry with 20 to 30pc of their programs to go, cranked up following the very good opening rains and most ended up planting their original intended area to crop.

Canola and lupin areas were down from 2018 and barley is up slightly.

Most of the country sown after the break was wheat.

In the north of the Kwinana zone, the North Midlands region received the good general rains in early June.

"The cereal crops on the medium and heavier soils emerged very well and have at least average grain yield potential," Mr Lamond said.

"Lighter soils were wind-blown prior to the rain and have suffered with furrow fill and some herbicide damage from the soil movement.

"Crops on the lighter country are patchier as a result and currently have lower than average yield potential.

"Canola has below grain yield potential due to being late and suffering slow uneven emergence."

The report said western regions of the zone to date had not suffered from the waterlogging that could often cap grain yields and moving east in the zone, most of the intended area of cereal had gone in.

In the west of the zone, while crops were late most growers were faced with at least average cereal yields and the recent rain has improved chances of this significantly.

The majority of the region has received another 25 to 30mm at the end of last week adding to sub-soil reserves.

"All crops were very slow to get away and even those sown dry in early May that germinated and sat there until the June break were initially very slow to get going," Mr Lamond said.

"Most crops are more than two weeks behind last year in growth stage at the same time last year, although in this region, crops can make up ground in the spring due to a greater chance of finishing rains than further east."

Cereals in the eastern areas of the Kwinana zone were on track for average grain yields.

"Most of the region had small reserves of sub-soil moisture when the break arrived and now with average or above average rain in June the potential is there if the rain keeps falling," the report said.

"The area of fallow is back on earlier predictions with planted area now up to originally planned hectares.

"Once growers got going on the remaining paddocks not sown dry following the rain in early June, most elected to complete their planned seeding programs.

"With grain prices reasonable and the greater percentage of crop in this region sown to wheat, the good start gave growers confidence to continue with seeding even though it was a little later than ideal."

The Albany zone region was in "very good shape" according to the report, with growers commenting they are fertilising for above average grain yields.

"Some of the earlier sown cereals have finished tillering and are starting to lift," Mr Lamond said.

"The emergence of crops was very good with even plant stands across paddocks and good plant density.

"There is no waterlogging in the susceptible areas just yet which can be a dampener on yield in the zone.

"The more growth crops can put on now, the better they are able to handle waterlogging and grow away from it in the spring.

"A lot of early nitrogen has been applied since the break and this has assisted with crop growth in the cold growing conditions.

"The barley area is up slightly from last year continuing to be substituted for wheat, while the canola and oat areas are similar to 2018."

The report said the west and southern areas of region were in very good shape with crops well advanced with most average to above average potential.

Mr Lamond said the rainfall in the Lakes region had followed a similar pattern as 2018 with a gradient of decreasing rainfall from north to south.

"The region has very little stored moisture from rainfall events in April and May and while the recent rain last week will go a little way in filling the profile, the region is going to need a good season from now to reach average grain yields," he said.

"Crops are later than growers would like for this time of the year and most cereals are just at the three leaf stage now."

According to the report the majority of the region east of Cascades in the Esperance zone is looking good at the moment.

"Generally, the cereal crop emergence is better than last year where the strong winds and patchy rainfall at the start, significantly impacted on plant density," Mr Lamond said.

"The best crops are east of Cascades to Scaddan and across to Condingup.

"Some areas around Salmon Gums and north of Cascades have also received good falls of rain from isolated events.

"Rainfall has been lighter north of Condingup and west of Cascades with areas around Munglinup the "epicentre" of low rainfall for the State so far this year."

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