October 2, 2008


Dry September pressures South Australian wheat


A dry September has put wheat and other winter crops in South Australia state under pressure, resulting in a cut to a production forecast, according to the state's Department of Primary Industries and Resources.


The total production in the state from winter crops to be harvested by the year-end is now forecast at 5.45 million tonnes, down 16 percent from a month ago but still up 12 percent on actual output last year.


Wheat production is now forecast at 2.71 million tonnes, down 17 percent on-month but still up 15 percent on-year, while barley output is forecast at 1.91 million tonnes, down 15 percent on-month but still up 7.3 percent on last year's actual output, according to the report.


Other crops grown in the state include oats, rapeseed and various legumes. Most of the grain is available for export.


Crop consultant Peter Fulwood said except for the lower southeast district, crop yield potential dropped significantly in September "and will continue to fall without immediate rainfall in all districts."


Mid-September, crops generally were looking quite good, but by the end of the month "most crops were showing varying degrees of moisture stress," he said in the report.


In the worst affected areas, patches of dead and dying crops were starting to show, while some other crops had already been cut for hay where yield potential was severely affected by the dry weather or frost, he said.


Rainfall in September in South Australia was well below average in most growing districts, with some recording their lowest September rainfall on record with monthly totals in many areas between only 5 millimeters and 25 mm, the report said.


Growing season rainfall is now below average in most districts. Temperatures were mostly cool to mild with several frosts early in the month but warm to hot days became more frequent, particularly in the northern growing districts later in the month, it reported.


In an outlook statement Friday, the government's Bureau of Meteorology forecast a moderate to strong shift in the odds favouring warmer than normal conditions over much of eastern and southern Australia through to December 31. The rainfall outlook for the state is neutral.   

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