Monday, November 5, 2012

Winter crop prospects limp to the finish line.


The end of October, marked the end of the ‘official’ growing year for many regions of the country, with any passing showers now only of nuisance value. And although the dry finish has rapidly matured crops, there will still be a % of the crop that will benefit from any substantial rain. 2012 has been characterized by sharply below average rainfall for most of the growing year, and as such forecast crop prospects continue to dwindle.

The start of the wet season in QLD is starting to brew, with 25 - 50mm falling in CQ over the past week. Most cropping regions luckily missed out on the more heavier falls. In October the Mackay region received an average of 14mm and Fitzroy 34mm. In the Downs and South West, the heavens finally opened in the middle of the month with the most amount of rain (20 - 35mm) falling since June/July. However rainfall is still 20 - 25mm behind the norm. It wasn’t a minute too late to kick start the large sorghum plant. Looks like there’ll be no major concerns with weather damage grain this year, with forecast clear skies for at least the next week.

Apart from the Murray regions which had average falls of 22mm (still a 17mm deficit), it was another month of below average rain for NSW.  Much of the state had decile 1 rainfall, which comes on the back of decile 2 recordings in both Sept and Aug. The hardest hit regions? Take your pick all regions are running up a 50 to 80mm deficit over the last three months, with Oct the direst month of the year.  GSR is 64mm below the norm (238mm). However YTD rainfall is +129mm, thanks to heavy rain in the first three months of 2012.

There was some good rain through VIC last month, however what has been the theme of the last three months, all key regions still had below normal rain. Mallee 14mm (-15mm below median), Wimmera 17mm (-23mm), Loddon 20mm (-20mm) and Western District 40mm (-20mm). There was some highlights in the Mallee however, with some good yields expected to be coming from around Sea Lake  to Birchip. There was some frost concerns being flagged for cropping regions that feed into Lakaput ABA. On a state average since April, there has only been one month of above median rainfall (July). GSR is 70mm below the norm of 270mm.

SA has experienced another bone dry month, all regions have registered double digit deficits. It was actually the driest month for a year and a half. The EP alone has registered four months in a row of decile 1 rainfall. So doesn’t come as too much of a shock when yields are reportedly down 40—70%. Over the last four months, growing regions are running at a 70mm deficit.

In the WA grainbelt, Oct was the driest month (5mm vs 21mm mean) since Jan 2010. And although the eastern fringes of the Kwinana zone and Esperance had some rain this week (15 to 38mm), it’s a little too late to be of any major benefit with headers  rolling in these regions. The Midland region which accounts for under half of state wheat production, GSR rainfall is running at a 104mm deficit. Over the weekend WA is expected to get some follow up showers with the rest of the country looking dry. However from mid next week there is a chance of at least 25mm for southern NSW and Northern VIC. Northern cropping areas however will be spared and harvest will continue unabated.

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