Rain settles dust and eases growers’ worries
By Frank Panizza
Toodyay Agricultural Alliance
IT IS both a pleasure and a relief to be writing this article with the sound of rain on my roof which followed immediately after last month’s local dust storm (left).
Autumn has been dry again this year, making it two such years in succession.
Season-breaking rains were widespread across the shire in late May, much to the relief of local farmers, most of whom received more than 30mm on the last weekend of the month.Read more
Many places in the Wheatbelt are still desperate for rain, compounding problems for farmers trying to recover from last year’s poor season, especially in northern areas of WA’s grain-growing regions.
The dry autumn was very evident prior to the rain on May 24 – a dust-filled sky with a howling hot wind seemed out of place on the eve of winter.
Luckily no reports of wind-blasted crops have emerged yet.
Tinder-dry soils and bare pasture paddocks, particularly to the north of the shire, are suspected to have been the source of the dust.
Local farmers who kept stubble on their paddocks may have even gained a little soil.
Locally, most cropping programs are complete or very near completion.
Some paddocks have germinated both canola and cereals, though most tend to be patchy.
The widespread opening rains will quickly germinate crops and kick start pastures.
Pastures are very poor at the moment and farmers are hoping for quick establishment as many have newly born lambs and calves.
The shortage of good pasture has again seen the rapid rise in the price of hay and feed grain.
Lupins, oats, barley, hay and pellet-feed rations have all seen price increases – including some by as much as 20 and 30 per cent – in the past two months.
The shortage of feed and price increases have inevitably led to increased selling of livestock, resulting in a weakening of values at the saleyard.
All grain prices for the coming season have remained firm, with industry pundits expecting them to remain so.
Weather concerns in key grain-growing regions throughout the world have contributed to the strength in grain values.
However, the Black Sea region – which includes Russia – has emerged as a major grain exporter in direct competition with Australian growers and exports from that area pose a significant threat to Australian markets.
While Australia has a freight advantage to our key markets in Asia, recent lowering of sea freight rates has seen this natural advantage erode in recent years.
Australian grain still enjoys a very strong reputation for being clean, safe and of excellent quality.
The key to maintaining our market share is to preserve this reputation into the future.