Monday, December 31, 2012

December Weather Wrap

The dominance of high pressure systems over much of the Eastern States leading to less cloud cover and rainfall has allowed harvest to be complete throughout the main production regions. Although some growers reported a very early finish, a wet December dragged out the harvest in southern regions of WA. Relief for summer crops, with Dec the wettest month in southern QLD since June. The Downs received an average of 70mm (varied between 109mm Dalby and 23mm Talwood) and the South West region 51mm.  Generous rainfall in the spring and early summer set up bumper sorghum yields, however subsoil this year is running on empty with 173mm over the last five months. This compares to 315mm in ’11 and 561mm in ’10.

NSW harvest was largely an uneventful period with only an average of 57mm falling over the past two months. This is in stark contrast to the previous two years when the state was drenched with 200mm in ’11 and 222mm in ’10! Passing showers throughout the month was only of nuisance value with most the crop off since mid-December. Grower’s patience may be rewarded with sorghum prospects boosted with wet weather received during the second half of the month. An average of 72mm has fallen in northern regions, making it the wettest month since July.
There was no weather downgrades or delays for the VIC harvest with only 14mm being received in Dec. Accumulated rainfall for the year finished at 320mm (381mm average), with the bulk of this rain being received in early 2012. For most of the state the last average monthly rainfall was in July, but thanks to the heavy fallow rainfall and cool end to the growing season, state production isn’t marred with any significant cuts, with an average year expected.

Thanks to high pressure systems centered in the Great Australian Bite, SA had its driest Dec in 18 years. Fire bans rather than rain were the only hold ups to harvest, with an average of only 9mm falling across the state. An average of 285mm fall across growing regions in 2012 (66mm deficit).  WA was dominated by rainfall in Dec, with above average rain falling across agricultural regions. An average of 20mm (+13mm above the norm) has fallen across growing regions; however with the strong storm activity rainfall was much higher in the worst affected areas. Nov & Dec were some of the wettest months of the year. With harvest complete, growers will be working to control summer weeds to preserve soil moisture.

Thoughts for 2013…..The second half of 2012 may be a precursor to what this year may bring, with reduced rain. With Eastern Australia not having the benefit of any substantial subsoil moisture, crops this year will not have any “get out of jail” cards when timely rains don’t arrive. As a result East Coast production will be below average.  While WA will revert back to an average year after the previous two years of extreme fluctuations in weather.

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