Monday, August 6, 2012

Spotlight continues on WA

Monthly rainfall deciles for Australia

Timely rain fell across the Eastern states through July, temporarily quelling production concerns for southern NSW and Northern Victoria. While the wet conditions continue in northern NSW and QLD. It is still very early, but worth flagging that if the wet conditions persist in these parts, high protein levels in wheat will be at risk. WA continues to be exceptionally dry, with the state the most precarious in regard to future yield penalty.

The clear sunny days of late also means night time temperatures have been very cold. Many regions across the country have recorded their coldest June/July in over five years. Conditions across QLD, continue to be ideal, with monthly rainfall averaging 30mm. CQ continues to be exceptionally wet (it’s meant to be the dry season!), with Mackay region registering 80mm above the July median of only 8mm. Year to date rainfall of 625mm is running at 361mm above the median. The Downs was slightly below the median of 21mm, but after a wet May/June growers wouldn’t mind a dry period.
NSW regions all had above average rainfall, and more importantly the Murrumbidgee and Murray had its first above average rainfall since March. However GSR is still running at a 40 to 60mm deficiency. The rest of the state is looking at above average yields, with YTD rainfall at a staggering 200mm above the mean.

The VIC season is back on track, experiencing above average rains. Complaints of paddocks being too wet has being a welcome change, the previous dry! However similar to southern NSW, some locations are running low on GSR and if the spring turns out dry (as the BoM is alluding) there isn’t much moisture in reserve to carry the crop through the spring.

Bit of mixed bag for SA, with much of the Eastern regions experiencing a wet close for the month (some towns 70 to 90mm). However yield potential has slipped in the EP, having a 30mm rainfall deficiency in July. Although current crop conditions are looking OK, the latest BoM forecast is a little worrying if above yields are to be achieved.

Referring to the chart on the right, it is easy to sum up what a terrible month July was for WA, with most parts of the grain belt having less then decile 1 rainfall. Although some welcome rain did fall this week, it will register as August rainfall. Apart from the Esperance zone which had ideal July rain (66mm), the rest of the state had only between 12 - 20mm (47mm rainfall deficiency). State GSR is currently at 116mm, which is a -67mm compared to the median. Short term forecast remains dry across most of the country, with a high pressure system dominating Eastern Australia.

It seems all climatic indicators continue to tease. SOI over the previous three months has averaged -6.6, flirting with the idea that the country was slipping into an El Niño event (which is sustained values of -8). A month on, current SOI has bounced back above parity to +0.1, contradicting rising sea surface temperatures in the Pacific. So it seems data still indicates that El Niño may very well evolve later this year, but at a much slower pace. 2012 is potentially looking at a transitional year, paving the way for a ‘potential’ drought occurring next year. We are probably due for one after potentially five years of +20mmt wheat crops. Refer back to last years tight end to the growing year in the US Midwest, was it a precursor to this years drought which is still being played out across the country.

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