Season 2018: seasonal and management information for farmers

Page last updated: Friday, 15 June 2018 - 2:39pm

We provide up-to-date information on this page to help manage the impacts of stressful weather in the 2018 season. The forecast for most agricultural areas in Western Australia is for a below-average rainfall season.

We recommend that you check this page every few weeks: the page will be updated at least every 2 weeks and the seasonal outlook will be updated at least every month. Information on this page is relevant for the period May–July 2018 (updated 15 June 2018).

Summary

  • Cropping in the northern and western parts of the central cropping area is tracking well: good follow-up rainfall in the last week has increased soil moisture, bringing total growing-season (May–October) rainfall to 50–80% of the median across this area.  
  • Conditions in the far-eastern and south-eastern parts of the grainbelt are not so fortunate: there were lighter falls, with the Shires of Kondinin, Kulin, Lake Grace, Jerramungup, Ravensthorpe, Kent, parts of Esperance, and east of Albany having total growing-season rainfall to date of 10% to 40% of the median. Soil moisture in the root zone remains below average or very below average in these areas.
  • Plant available soil moisture is low in the eastern and south-eastern areas.
  • There remains a shortage of feed supplies across the state; pasture feed on offer is still limited. Cold temperatures will slow the growth of pastures.
  • Growers are likely to be hand-feeding for the next 4–6 weeks until paddock feed on offer is at sufficient levels. 

See the seasonal rainfall update newsletter for a full set of recent rain and soil moisture maps and information.

Seasonal situation

Weather

The second week of June has provided follow-up rainfall for northern cropping areas, as well as western parts of the central cropping area. Far eastern and south-eastern parts of the grainbelt received lighter falls, as expected from the wind pattern. Deep low-pressure systems generated strong north-westerly winds. The week also brought winter-season rain to the Pilbara region from a cloud band. Most rainfall stations are still less than decile 3 for rainfall since 1 April 2018.

Crops

Most areas have finished sowing, and the northern, western, and south-western grainbelt have had enough rain to support normal seasonal growth. The eastern and south-eastern grainbelt are still relatively dry, with little soil moisture.

Strong prefrontal winds in the last week caused damage to emerging crops and erosion of lighter soils.

Post-emergent weed management is now relevant in most areas.

Pastures and livestock

This year there is high probability of having a longer period of under-nutrition compared to last year. The first priority is to keep feeding lactating ewes until there is 700 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha) of pasture feed on offer (FOO).

Consistent pasture growth following a reasonable germination requires about 10 millimetres (mm) rainfall per week. That level of rainfall could achieve daily pasture growth of 5–10kg/ha over the winter period. This means it will take at least 70 days on deferred pastures to get 700kg/ha: that is, by early-August. Slower growth rates or early grazing means the target FOO is likely to be achieved in spring.

This year, later pasture germination means that total pasture production is forecast to be, at best, 75% of the average year yield.

Pregnancy toxaemia and hypocalcaemia are problems brought on by poor feed, not enough feed, and inadequate calcium or glucose to meet demands of pregnant ewes. Consult your livestock adviser if your sheep have these problems.

Weather outlook

A cold front is predicted to cross the WA coast on 18 and 19 June. A week of fine weather is expected after that. Relatively lighter rainfall is predicted for the eastern grainbelt and south coast.

The Gascoyne and southern Pilbara have had significant rain in the week ending 14 June. Moderate rainfall is forecast in the same area for the week 13–20 June.

View the models for wind and rain in windy.com for that time.

Seasonal outlook

The Bureau of Meteorology’s outlook is for below-average rain in June to August. DPIRD’s Statistical Seasonal Forecast model is for below-average rainfall (decile 2–3) for June–August in most of the grainbelt, with some areas at decile 1.

Maximum temperatures are expected to be slightly above average, and minimum temperatures are expected to be about average.

Since 2012, the May–October outlook has been correct in 5 years out of 6 for the northern and central grainbelt, 2 years out of 6 in the southern region, and 4 years out of 6 in the Esperance region.

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Seasonal information

Crop

Livestock

Ewes with lambs will need supplementary feeding in most areas until paddock food on offer reaches 700kg dry matter per hectare.

Grain and hay feed supplies remain in short supply.

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Land and water

Soil erosion risk this month (June) is high as a result of low levels of groundcover, low soil moisture and areas of disturbed ground for cropping. Pre-frontal north-westerly winds, which are expected at this time of year, are likely to cause significant wind erosion on susceptible soils. Intense rainfall can cause water erosion on sloping landscapes. 

Health and finances

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Contacts

Contact your local DPIRD office to find out who can help you on any of the topics above. You can also suggest any changes to this page.

Seasons