A glimpse into the 2014 season will be revealed at the Dalwallinu Regional Crop Update tomorrow (5 March).
Department of Agriculture and Food climate research officer Fiona Evans will talk attendees through most recent climate data from the department, Bureau of Meteorology and other sources.
The Regional Crop Update is being hosted by the Liebe Group in association with the department, with support from the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
Dr Evans said that while it was very early in the season and substantive data was still coming in, models show that Western Australian grain growers were heading for normal conditions over the next three months.
“At this stage data suggests the 2014 season is in line with previous seasons since 2000,” she said.
“This generally means continued climate variability but we will have greater forecasting information and confidence in our prediction as the season progresses and we have more data to work from.”
Dr Evans’ presentation will also touch on the El Nino phenomenon and its implications for Western Australia.
“It is beginning to look likely that an El Nino will occur later this year. While that is likely to cause dry conditions in the Eastern States, it should only have a minor impact on conditions here in the West,” she said.
“Western Australian weather is determined more by sea surface temperatures in the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans and the interactions between them.
“Interestingly, storm conditions created in the Southern Ocean by the Roaring Forties has moved south by about five degrees in recent years, making it more difficult for storm clouds to reach the mainland. This has been a major driver of the drier seasons we’ve experienced since 2000. More analysis really needs to be done in this area to learn more about its impact on rainfall across the South West.”
Dr Evans will also discuss the tools available to growers to assist them to make informed management decisions as the season progresses.
“The department’s website is the best port of call for up to date soil moisture maps, most of which are showing less than five millimetres,” she said.
“Growers can also hook into our Statistical Seasonal Forecasting system for a localised rainfall forecast as well as frost risk maps.
“These maps and data will be updated throughout the season to provide growers with concrete information from which to make vital crop management decisions.
“They will also be supported by real-time weather station data, available on the website, across 120 locations.”
The Dalwallinu Crop Update will be held at the Recreation Centre on Wednesday, 5 March.
Other speakers include DAFWA research officer Wayne Parker, on the role of break crops, as well as representatives from Rabobank, the CBH Group, the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre and other consultants.
For more information and to register, visit DAFWA’s website agric.wa.gov.au and season for ‘regional crop updates’ or contact a local department office.
Media contacts: Megan Broad/Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937