Rain improves prospects for some

Rain improves prospects for some

Ned Norwood, 14 months, loved the puddles at his grandparent's property at Scaddan, after 63mm of rain fell over the weekend. Photo by Kell Norwood.

Ned Norwood, 14 months, loved the puddles at his grandparent's property at Scaddan, after 63mm of rain fell over the weekend. Photo by Kell Norwood.


Unfortunately most of the Central Wheatbelt missed out.


A SEVERE weather front delivered mixed blessings to Western Australia's grain growing regions on Sunday and Monday.

The latest weather event was on the back of heavy rain that fell on the lower South West last week.

Over the course of the week, the highest rainfalls were recorded in the Southern Coastal area, with Wellstead recording 138 millimetres in the seven days leading up to Monday 9am.

Cascade had been feeling the effects of the lack of water this year, but after receiving up to 57mm over the last week, farmer Tom Carmody said things were looking up.

"That brings us up to about 67mm for the past 30 days which gives us reasonable potential in the crops," Mr Carmody said

"They weren't looking too bad before this as we got rain in mid-July as well which pepped them up a bit, but they're definitely looking even better.

"I'm hoping that our wheat is going to average 2.5 tonne (per hectare) with the potential it could do a bit better, barley would be similar but our canola is not looking so good as it suffered early on and we'll be lucky to get a 600 kilogram average out of that."

Mr Carmody said the closer to the coast, the more rainfall they received which was the lay of the land around there.

"It's definitely looking a lot better than it was a couple of months ago and it gives us a lot more confidence going into harvest," he said.

"But we will need another follow-up rain in a couple of weeks and no frost to really get us over the line.

"We're still going to be a little light on stock water going into summer, we've had a bit of run-off now which is nice, but I'm not confident we've got enough in our dams to carry us through."

The weekend's rain was felt around the State's grain growing areas, however most of the Central Wheatbelt missed out, with Beverley, Goomalling and many others receiving less than 3mm.

It was a similar story in the Great Southern, with the likes of Narrogin and Wickepin copping less than 5mm.

The Central West did better out of the event, with Three Springs recording 55mm and many others receiving 40mm or more.

While the majority of the South Coast was blessed by the two rainfall events, water deficient areas around Salmon Gums, Newdegate and Kukerin once again missed out.

Salmon Gums grower Sam Starcevich said they only received between 3.5 and 5mm on Sunday night and at the beginning of last week he received between 10 and 20mm across the farm.

"We've got four properties spread over about 40 kilmotres from east Salmon Gums to further east, so in the last week or so we've averaged maybe 20mm across the whole farm," Ms Starcevich said.

"The forecasts were predicting more than 100mm for us in this area, so no one in Salmon Gums is very happy with BoM (Bureau of Meteorology) at the moment because whenever they predict we're going to get flooded, we instead get nothing.

"Our crops aren't looking too bad, they are behind, especially our canola, but the guys north of Salmon Gums are getting less than we are, with only 2mm last week."

The Starcevich's dams are still empty and anyone with livestock in the area is really starting to feel the pinch.

"We're starting to think about what we're going to do over summer if we don't get any run-off rains," Ms Starcevich said.

"We really don't want to be carting water again and we're wondering if it's time to start destocking, depending on how much water we get.

"Despite that, it is looking better than it was three or four weeks ago and we've come a long way in that time."

Agronomist Michael Lamond said the recent rain has gone right through the grainbelt, from north to south, but did cut out west of the Albany Highway.

"There was a corridor of the country that got 10mm or less, which is the same corridor as it's been all year, it's starting north of Wongan Hills and heading south towards Dowerin and Corrigin," Mr Lamond said.

"Most of those areas didn't get quite as much through there, but for the north and south it was absolutely fantastic and was just what they needed.

"Particularly in the north, where the season finishes quicker, it has given them hope for definitely an average, if not above-average season."

Overall, the rain has got most of the State back on track for at least an average season, which is around 15 million tonnes now.

Mr Lamond said the rain would slow the development of the crops, which was a good thing as a lot of them were a bit too far ahead, particularly south of the Great Eastern Highway where there is a lot of frost risk.

"In the low rainfall areas they will slow down a bit and in the southern areas they will slow due to temperature which will pull back that frost risk," he said.

"It was a fantastic rain and was exactly what we needed, you almost couldn't have asked for anything better."


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