Reid Seaby, Agfarm Regional Manager WA
A terrible week for farmers in WA with both frost and moisture stress having a detrimental impact on crops. Prior to the weekend the majority of the state was on track for a very good harvest with near perfect growing conditions for most of the winter. But over the weekend large parts of southern WA experienced severe frosts. Many areas fell well below zero for significant periods of time with growers around Nyabing, Newdegate and Hyden seemingly the worst affected. The Great Eastern Highway appeared to be the northern boundary of the frost zone with places in and around Merredin only briefly dipping below zero. The full extent of the damage won’t be known for some time, but it is evident that big acres have been impacted, with some growers even electing to cut crops for hay in the hope of achieving a higher return.
Although the frost will be devastating for some, moisture stress may have a much greater and broader impact. With big crops that are generally a little later than average there is a very real need for another good rain to get crops through to maturity and fulfil their potential. Unfortunately, the forecast doesn’t look promising and with temperatures creeping into the low 30’s over the weekend, crops will begin to go backwards very quickly. The trade will be monitoring this very closely to try and understand the impact on yields and quality as we move closer to harvest.
On a more positive note, grain markets performed strongly over the last seven days with cereal bids jumping $10-20/MT across all zones. Feed barley was $11/MT higher to end the week at $350/MT FIS Kwinana while malt values jumped a whopping $23/MT to $392/MT FIS. APW1 was just as significant, up $20/MT from last week to $370/MT FIS. Canola was the black sheep remaining essentially unchanged for the week.
Great Northern Rural Services’ Tony Rosser can’t be seen in this massive canola crop just outside of Geraldton.
Prices as at 20th September