Season 2018: seasonal and management information for farmers

Page last updated: Tuesday, 10 July 2018 - 1:43pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

We provide up-to-date information on this page to help manage the impacts of stressful weather in the 2018 season.

We recommend that you check this page every few weeks: the page will be updated at least every two weeks and the seasonal outlook will be updated at least every month. Information on this page is relevant for the period July - August 2018 (updated 9 July 2018).

Summary

  • Western and south-western areas have a close to normal season.
  • The far-eastern and south-eastern parts of the grainbelt are much drier than average: The Shires of Lake Grace, Jerramungup, Ravensthorpe, north-western areas of Esperance, and east of Albany having total growing-season rainfall to date of 20% to 50% of the median.
  • Soil moisture in the root zone remains below average for the entire eastern grainbelt. Locations from Trayning to Jerramungup and further east are well below average.
  • Feed supplies are limited 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 livestock into August, until paddock feed on offer is at sufficient levels.
  • The option of grazing crops is possible in some areas.

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

Seasonal situation

Weather

The south coast and far north-eastern areas of the grainbelt have received mostly less than 100m of rain this month. The west coast from Shark Bay to the south west and much of the central grainbelt has received greater than 25mm of rain.

Western and south-western locations have received good rainfall to date, and may achieve average rain for the month. Rainfall over the south-eastern grainbelt remains well below average to date.

Gascoyne and Pilbara have had well above-average rainfall for the month to date, noting that this is a time of year when rainfall is usually low.

Crops

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. Germination is at varying stages and patchy in some locations.

Post-emergent weed management is now relevant in most areas. Insect damage to germinating crops has been reported in lower central grainbelt.

Grazing crops is an option that, when done correctly, will improve whole farm profit. Livestock profitability offsets the potential yield reduction.

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). Current FOO estimates range from more than 500 in the western agricultural areas to less than 50kg DM/ha in the eastern grainbelt. plant growth rates are typicaly below 10kg/ha/day. Our latest information from remote sensing is:

  • Food on offer in the south-west of WA for the week ending 3 July 2018
  • Pasture growth rates in kilograms of dry matter per hectare per day for the week ending 3 July 2018

Careful grazing of crops is a farm management tool that can assist in maintain livestock condition and to defer grazing of pastures.

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 30-60 days on deferred pastures to get 700kg/ha: that is, in August or later. Slower growth rates or early grazing means the target FOO is likely to be achieved in spring.

This year, delayed pasture germination means that total pasture production is forecast to be, at best, 75% of the average year yield. Premature grazing will slow plant growth, further limiting total pasture production.

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

The next week is likely to provide light rainfall of 10mm or less throughout the grainbelt.

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 five years out of six for the northern and central grainbelt, two years out of six in the southern region, and four years out of six in the Esperance region.

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.

Additional background references for livestock

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

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