The Department of Agriculture and Food’s latest Growing Season Outlook predicts normal to above normal rainfall for growers over the next three months and a potential late break to the season.
The department’s Statistical Seasonal Forecast (SSF) system outlook from April to June suggests normal to above normal rainfall across the wheatbelt but growers can expect strong variability between months.
Research officer Fiona Evans said drier conditions were indicated for the wheatbelt in May, followed by an equal to increased chance of above median rainfall in June.
The forecast is similar to the Bureau of Meteorology’s three month outlook for neutral rainfall, coupled with predictions of warmer than normal temperatures.
Dr Evans said the longer term outlook for the growing season from April to October indicated equal to increased chances of above average rainfall for the southern wheatbelt, with generally close to normal rain forecast for the remainder of the wheatbelt.
“The current outlook for spring is for a greater chance of reduced rainfall across most areas of the wheatbelt and the possibility of more frost, which comes with the dry spring pattern,” she said.
“Based on March conditions, the accuracy of the forecast for the period from April to June is rated as medium or good, but the longer term outlook for the growing season is poor to average.”
Department Grains Innovation and Network director David Bowran encouraged growers to have a look at the SSF and other tools on the department’s website to assist with decisions about their cropping program.
“In the northern wheatbelt, early crop emergence for dry sown crops could be limited by a dry May, but with the prospect of better than average winter rainfall, adequate stored moisture should be carried over to spring, except on poor quality soils,” Dr Bowran said.
“Due to the drier spring outlook, frost-prone areas in the region may be at higher risk of frost this year.
“In the central wheatbelt, growers with good subsoil moisture and promising winter rain prospects could face weed and disease management issues, alongside an increased risk of frost in susceptible areas if spring turns dry.
“In the southern agricultural region, waterlogging and the risk of leaf diseases could be issues in some areas, along with an increased risk of frost if a drier spring eventuates.”
The SSF can be viewed for free by searching for ‘ssf’ on the department’s website agric.wa.gov.au, or by going to agric.wa.gov.au
For more seasonal advice, tools and information, search for ‘grains’ to visit the department’s Grains Gateway.
Media contact: Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937