Poor rainfall forecast for grain season
The Department of Agriculture and Food has urged WA grain growers to plan their 2017 cropping program carefully because of below average rainfall forecast during the growing season.
Ten out of 11 Australian and international climate forecasts have no wetter than normal conditions expected for April to June, suggesting greater confidence in the outlook.
DAFWA research officer Meredith Guthrie says the strong agreement between models was unusual so early in the season.
“In past years where an El Nino and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole have occurred together, the negative impact on rainfall became stronger in the South West and southern parts of Western Australia,” she said.
Department research officer David Ferris said the outlook for direr conditions could make it tricky for growers to roll out their cropping programs.
“Currently, plant available soil moisture is less in the Northern Agricultural region compared with the Central and South Coast regions, where soil moisture levels are high,” he said.
“Those areas with good soil moisture levels can still anticipate above average yields, in spite of the projected forecast for below average rainfall — provided crops emerge early or are sown into moist soils in May.
“Growers who took the opportunity to deep rip compacted soils after summer rain will also benefit from crop roots accessing more of the soil profile this season.”
The department’s Statistical Seasonal Forecast system is indicating a 30 to 60 per cent chance of exceeding average rainfall across the grainbelt for April to June, and rainfall is most likely to be in the 2-3 decile range — the second lowest — based on a poor to good predictive skill.
The Bureau of Meteorology also expects early season temperatures to be warmer than usual.
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