A lack of spring rain and unseasonably hot windy conditions has played a big role in the grain yield potential for WA's crops this harvest.
The Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA) has released its latest crop report which predicts the overall WA total to be 14,954,000 tonnes - a reduction of about 500,000t or about three per cent since last month's crop prediction.
Harvest is underway in the central and northern districts of the graingrowing regions of Western Australia and is just starting further south in the State on early-sown barley and canola crops. Initial reports indicate the actual tonnage produced for WA is going to be less than expected just prior to the start of harvest a few weeks ago.
Persistent hot temperatures, combined with windy days and no further rain, have driven grain yields down in all regions.
Most growers are reporting yields to be less than they looked when standing in the paddock.
The hot temperatures and lack of subsoil moisture during the final stages of grain fill has taken the top off the potential grain yields and reduced grain quality, with many crops now going to have issues with screenings.
The one-off low rainfall event in early September appears to have helped crops in the central region avoid very high screenings, although this is not the case in the majority of the northern regions.
While 15mt of grain for WA is well down on the past few years, historically it is still a good result considering the lower area planted, the actual rainfall and the timing of the rainfall.
GIWA said on water use efficiency alone, total grain production would have been 30 percent less 10 years ago.
Growers who got out of oaten hay when prices dropped mostly replaced those paddocks with canola.
The result has been a big reduction in the area of oats destined for hay, particularly in the traditional northern hay production areas and around the low rainfall eastern Lakes District. There was not a lot of area cut for hay this year and this is likely to remain the case even with greater access to export markets.
Even with new season hay prices back up to the higher decile price ranges, GIWA said the quick exit from hay into other crops was not likely to flip to a quick return to hay in the near future, unless there is a significant canola price shock.
There are also positive signs on the pulse marketing front and while plantings have been down in recent years, agronomically they have a good fit.
It is expected that faba bean plantings in particular will increase in 2024.
The Kwinana zone is expected to produce about 3,800,000t of wheat, 1,400,000t of barley, 800,000t of canola, 140,000t of oats, 150,000t of lupins and 12,000t of pulses for an overall total of 6,302,000t.
The Albany zone is expected to produce 4,030,000t in total, made up of 1,500,000t of wheat, 1,500,000t of barley, 720,000t of canola, 220,000t of oats, 70,000t of lupins and 20,000t of pulses.
In Esperance, the prediction is for 1,550,000t of wheat, 840,000t of barley, 550,000t of canola, 20,000t of oats, 30,000t of lupins and 30,000t of pulses for 3,020,000t in total.
In the Geraldton zone, about 1,275,000t is expected for wheat, 100,000t of barley, 150,000t of canola, 5000t of oats, 70,000t of lupins and 2000t of pulses for an overall total of 1,602,000t.
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