Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mixed Results from Summer Deluge

The belated wet season finally arrived with a vengeance thanks to ex Cyclone Oswald slowly meandering its way down the coast of QLD into northern NSW. Rainfall tallies and river heights have been broken in places, while the flooding in some locations is comparable to both ’10 and ’11. The most serious regions to be affected include coastal rivers and catchments along the coast in CQ at Rockhampton and Gladstone, south to the border. Although the wild weather has damaged maturing sorghum crops and cotton bolls in the Downs the steadier falls through inland regions was well received for later sown sorghum crops and pastures.

With January the hottest month on record for QLD, sorghum yields would have been trimmed substantially in some regions. While the more mature plants are inundated with rain are now sprouting. In inland regions of CQ, the rain were welcome for a late plant, however some locations like Emerald (63mm) still very dry for this time of year. Although coastal regions were subjected to the more extreme rainfall amounts (Gladstone 820mm in four days!), overall CQ growing regions received an average of 120mm, Downs 163mm and South West 56mm.  

For much of January NSW experienced a hot (warmest since 1941) and dry month, with only northern regions getting any beneficial moisture from Oswald. An average of 132mm fell across these sorghum/cotton regions which is ideal for the reduced Liverpool Plains crop that was planted very late.  However overall yield prospects are diminishing due to hot summer and scattered sowing dates. The rest of the state continues to experience a hot and dry month with only isolated showers.

No summer storm activity for VIC, and as highlighted below is severely short on any soil moisture. The “Mallee” SD region has only received 65mm over the last six months. With the BoM predicating a dry early autumn, the 2013 crop will be more reliant on timely GSR compared to the previous years. There was an extremely rare sighting of a flock of 60 odd Malleefowl north of Patche the other day. Not sure what this means or if it is a precursor to any unseasonable future meteorological event, but it is impressive nonetheless! Rainfall across much of SA during January was below average due to weak tropical activity for this time of the year, with many growing receiving less than half of their average rainfall. Substantial rain is needed to recharge soil reserves, after a very dry second half of 2012.

Majority of rain received in WA cropping regions was in the middle of the month, with the Midlands regions on average getting 40mm (+35mm above average). Other regions received between 24mm (Esperance) and 9mm (Geraldton). Previous three month totals of 96mm, is well above the long term average of 26mm. A wet summer has been a theme over the last couple of years, with 98mm in ‘11/12 and 71mm in ‘10/11.