Latest updates and advice
- Seeding is well underway with programs at different stages across the grainbelt due to the absence of widespread rainfall to open rain the winter growing season. Refer to Crop management section.
- Seasonal outlook forecasts below average rainfall and warmer daytime temperatures for the grainbelt in autumn and winter. Refer to Climate situation and outlook section.
- Producers may be concerned about livestock management, with dry conditions restricting pasture growth and high numbers of sheep remaining on-farm. Refer to resources in Livestock management section.
- Mouse activity is evident in some areas, with baiting in progress where there is moderate to high activity. To reduce risk of mice infestations across the grainbelt, landowners are encouraged to remain vigilant and continue to monitor, report mice activity and bait where necessary. See Mice section.
Mice populations are widespread and landholders continue to report activity. GRDC/CSIRO mouse monitoring updates indicate moderate to high activity in southern parts of the grain belt, with many areas already baited, and moderate activity in western parts. Northern grainbelt growers should remain vigilant as mouse activity is patchy. Mice cause damage at all stages of crop development, so it is critical to implement control measures and continue vigilance throughout the season.
Landholders are advised to:
- monitor paddocks for active burrows and use chew cards to identify mouse activity.
- implement control measures when necessary.
- report mouse activity using the FeralScan MouseAlert app.
- Good on-farm hygiene is essential.
- Monitoring and detection: this can include the use of hole counts, chew cards and trapping to determine mice numbers. Plague level mouse populations are indicated by chew cards with >20 squares per card eaten or active burrow counts of >5 mouse holes per 100m2 .
- New baiting recommendations: From 1 January 2023, 50g/kg zinc phosphide mice bait permits have additional conditions. Bait should be applied only if monitoring has indicated presence of plague level mouse populations. If conditions are met, the department recommends baiting with 50g/kg zinc phosphide. Completed documentation must be provided to suppliers prior to obtaining baits. Landholders are advised to adhere to the strict label requirements governing the use of zinc phosphide bait, using only if these conditions are met, and to ensure livestock and pets are restrained to reduce the risk of poisoning. (Note: Zinc phosphide mouse baits are an S7 chemical and must only be sourced from licenced suppliers and/or manufacturers).
Baiting safety considerations
- Zinc phosphide is registered for in-crop use only and strict baiting criteria have been established to minimise off target impacts. Bait must not be laid within 50m of the crop perimeter or native vegetation.
- Zinc phosphide poses little secondary poisoning hazard and does not bioaccumulate in the environment. However, granivorous birds feeding in crops are at risk if bait is laid on bare ground or if patches of bait are spilled during baiting operations.
- Checking for non-target animal mortalities is a condition for the use of rodenticides. Reports of misuse or wildlife deaths should be forwarded in writing to the Department of Health’s Medicines and Poisons Branch MPRB@health.wa.gov.au.
- GRDC Mice Portal
- Diagnosing mouse damage
- Economic considerations for mouse control
- FeralScan MouseAlert app
- Current industry issues have resulted in higher sheep numbers retained on farm. Dry conditions have limited pasture growth with available food on offer expected to decline over coming months. Refer to Management resources and Animal health and welfare resources below to manage livestock health risks.
- Since their detection in Indonesia in 2022, two significant livestock diseases, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease (LSD) are a potential threat to Australian producers . Producers should keep up to date with emergency animal disease prevention and preparedness information. See Emergency Animal Disease Hub.
- Sheep feeding and nutrition
- Supplementary feeding and feed budgeting for sheep
- Management tools and calculators for sheep
- Grazing stubbles and dry pastures
- Confined paddock feeding and feedlotting of sheep
- Electronic identification of sheep and goats
- Farm recovery after fire
Animal health and welfare resources
- Condition scoring sheep
- Welfare decisions for sheep and cattle
- Is your livestock fit to load? (Meat & Livestock Australia)
- Sheep worm control
- Managing barber's pole worm in sheep
- Annual ryegrass toxicity (ARGT) in livestock
- Emergency Animal Disease Hub
- Managing flystrike in sheep
- Flystrike management tools
- Diagnosing ergot in feed grains
- WA livestock disease outlook: a monthly newsletter for producers
- A national guide to describing and managing beef cattle in low body condition (PDF from Meat & Livestock Australia)
- Seeding is well underway across the grainbelt, with canola, some lupins, oats and pasture germinating, although patchy in areas of low soil moisture.
- Due to the below average rainfall outlook, there is a consideration of seasonal risk in cropping programs that will impact on further seeding decisions and input management.
- To minimise the risk of soil erosion, growers are encouraged to retain groundcover and delay soil amelioration until the soil is moist. Refer to Timing tips for deep tillage, Managing wind erosion and Seeding into deep ripped or renovated soils.
- Efficient nitrogen application and management can reduce costs, boost production and reduce greenhouse gas production. Consider your requirements for nitrogen application rates, timing, source and placement to match to crop needs. Refer to Agriculture Victoria: Nitrogen fertilisers — improving efficiency and saving money.
- To reduce risk of mice infestations across the grainbelt, growers are encouraged to monitor, report mice activity and bait where necessary. See Mice section.
- Canola sowing time to maximise yield
- Growing a successful canola crop
- 2023 WA Crop sowing guide
- GRDC Research Updates 2023: Timing tips for deep tillage media release
- Managing wind erosion
- Summer weeds information
- Green bridge management over summer
- GRDC Deep ripping fact sheet
- Seeding into deep ripped or renovated soils
- Diagnosing ergot-infected grain
- PestFacts WA
- Russian Wheat Aphid: production pest
- Farm recovery after fire
- Cropping paddocks after fire
- Diagnosing ergot-infected grain
Keep updated and report
- Learn about the latest pests and diseases activity in WA and how to identify and manage them by reading the PestFacts WA e-newsletter.
- The PestFacts WA map provides a visual display of current and historical insect or plant disease activity reported in WA.
- The PestFacts WA team welcomes all insect and plant disease reports, and identification requests, so we can continue providing risk alerts to the WA grains industry. Download and use the new free PestFacts WA Reporter app for both Apple and android devices. The new version replaces the previous PestFax Reporter app, so once the new app is downloaded, please delete the older PestFax Reporter app.
Land and water management
- Areas of low ground cover across the grainbelt present an erosion risk which may be exacerbated from periodic dry spells and/or grazing livestock.
- Low dam water levels present increased risk of blue-green algae toxicity for stock even after the algal blooms have disappeared. Landholders can monitor their water quality by sampling and laboratory testing, monitor stock for signs of poisoning and implement measures to prevent and/or treat algal blooms. Refer to Managing blue-green algae on farms in Western Australia.
- Previous thunderstorms in some areas have caused soil erosion and filled dams with straw and sheep manure further reducing water quality
- To minimise the risk of soil erosion, growers are encouraged to retain groundcover and delay soil amelioration until the soil is moist. See information and options for preventing, reducing or managing wind erosion in cropping and pasture systems and GRDC Research Updates 2023: Timing tips for deep tillage
- Plan for and invest in reliable on-farm water supplies.
- Groundwater desalination on farms in Western Australia: Please remember that you must submit a notice of intent to drain or pump water – desalination (NOI), together with the neighbour comments, to the Commissioner of Soil and Land Conservation at least 90 days before intended discharge.
- It is time to maintain roaded catchments and dams. Plan now for new dams and roaded catchments.
- Ranking option for soil amelioration (ROSA) tool
- Managing wind erosion in south-western Australia
- GRDC Research Updates 2023: Timing tips for deep tillage
- Managing blue-green algae on farms in Western Australia
WA’s rural support services
- For assistance in recovering from fires, refer to Farm recovery after fire.
- Rural Aid provides assistance for primary producers and now has counsellors located in the WA wheatbelt.
- For more information on other support services available to help people in rural areas of WA find the assistance they need to deal with stressful situations, please view WA's rural support services webpage and directory.
Climate situation and outlook
- Rainfall in the South West Land Division (SWLD) for May to July is likely to be below average, based on a survey of 22 international models
- The Bureau’s seasonal outlook for May to July indicate a low chance (20-30%) of exceeding median rainfall, with medium skill (50-75%) and 80% chance of above average day-time maxima, with moderate to good skill (65-75%). While above average night-time minima are also predicted (65-80% chance), skill is mostly poor (45-50%). See the Bureau’s seasonal outlook video for more details.
- April rainfall was above average for much of the southern agricultural area, with northern areas being notably below average. Temperatures in April were well below average.
- Refer to DPIRD's Seasonal climate outlook for further details.
|DPIRD Seasonal climate outlook newsletters||DPIRD Seasonal climate outlook|
DPIRD rainfall forecasts, soil water maps, potential yield maps, and frost risk maps
Bureau of Meteorology weekly rainfall
|Bureau of Meteorology forecasts||Bureau of Meteorology:Water and Land|
Bureau of Meteorology daily rainfall and other local climate records
DPIRD weather station - rainfall information
|DPIRD online weather stations map|
Australian CliMate app (Apple devices)
Animated global weather conditions affecting WA