THE SEASONAL drought over much of Western Australia has broken, with most key cropping zones receiving between 20-40mm over the past week.
However, the late start to the season means the Grains Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) is predicting a total winter crop plant in WA of less than 8 million hectares for the first time in many years.
GIWA said the majority of crops would still be planted, however in its report it said there would be some paddocks left out due to missing the optimum planting window and an increase in pasture reflecting high sheepprices..
It also said from here on in growers will need an above average late winter and spring, especially in low and medium rainfall zones, to achieve average yields.
Grain analysts are now turning their eye to southern Australia, with the remnants of the WA weather system forecast to deliver useful falls over south-eastern Australia, in particular Victoria in coming days.
Conditions in northern NSW and Queensland, however, remain stubbornly dry as hopes fade for achieving average yields and growers face a third consecutive poor winter crop.
Further adding to the gloom is news out of the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) that an Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) positive event is on the cusp of forming.
A positive IOD is correlated with lower than average rainfall, however there is some small consolation for drought weary northern croppers in that it is more of an issue in south-eastern and central parts of Australia than the north-east.
In Western Australia, GIWA is still forecasting lower plantings than in 2018, although it is yet to put out production estimates.
It attributed this to the late start seeing growers leave some area out, while there has also been an increase in hectares planted to pasture due to the good profitability of sheep at present.
Rainfall in WA has been less significant in the eastern wheatbelt, while the Lakes region in the Albany port zone is also dry, receiving a small amount of precipitation in mid-May and another minor drink last week.
Prior to the rain, there were still raised dust and erosion problems in the Geraldton region, while the normally reliable Esperance area is also still dry.
Across the westren state, cropping regions close to the sea are generally doing the best in terms of moisture.