Consensus on latest three-month outlook

Consensus on latest three-month outlook

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AgroMeteorology Australia owner Dr David Stephens.

AgroMeteorology Australia owner Dr David Stephens.

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BoM's reported wetter than average conditions are likely for much of WA from April to July.

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A METEOROLOGIST who successfully predicted last year's below average rainfall has said the Bureau of Meteorology's (BoM) outlook for the next three months is accurate.

At the beginning of April, BoM's climate outlook reported that wetter than average conditions are likely for much of Western Australia from April to July, something which AgroMeteorology Australia (AMA) owner David Stephens agrees with.

Each year, Dr Stephens issues long-range climate and crop forecasts to his clients which were developed over 20 years in the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia (DAFWA) and the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC).

The climate outlooks produced combine global scale El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecasts and regional climate forecasts with an Australian crop modelling system to give integrated crop yield assessments.

Dr Stephens said for the 2019 season, he issued his first outlook in September 2018 which predicted rainfall was likely to lean towards below average in the 2019 winter growing season.

"The first rainfall outlook map in February 2019 showed below-average rainfall for Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria," Dr Stephens said.

"In March 2019 two new indicators pointed to a very dry eastern Australia and a less severe Western Australia, so analogues changed in April to reflect this.

"Actual rainfall for May to October matched the February outlook for Western Australia and inland areas of South Australia and Victoria, but was drier in drought affected areas in the east."

In terms of national and State wheat yield predictions for May to October 2019, Dr Stephens said yield forecasts based on the AMA seasonal forecasts were more accurate than those from Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES).

"In Western Australia and in Queensland the early May and June yield forecasts were more accurate than ABARES and those based on median rain," he said.

"In June this forecast was close to the final result and was 6.4 million tonnes lower than what ABARES was predicting," he said.

"Mid-season forecasts were slightly more optimistic, but final estimates in early October and November were all within 200,000t of the final ABARES estimate of 15.2mt.

While BoM's outlook for the next three months is accurate at the moment, that could change according to Dr Stephens whose full 2020 seasonal outlook is available by subscribing on the website.

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