Golf ball hail hits a quadruple bogey for WA wheat belt crops – Mecardo

While torrential rain and floods drowned the east coast over the last couple of months, WA was looking to have escaped the chaos this season. However this week all that changed, with a swathe of the central and northern WA wheat belt lashed with extreme hailstorms and flooding rain, leaving damaged crops in its path.
November 8th, 2022 will prove to be a date etched in the minds of some WA grain producers this year as wild weather descended upon part of the WA wheat belt. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) reports that the storm-impacted zone extended across six or more regions, namely Merredin, Northam, Corrigin, Cunderdin, Kellerberrin and York.
Reports of over 80mm of rain in under 3 hours and hail damage were widespread across the affected zones, with the storm’s progress described as carving “trail of destruction” through Narembeen, York, Merredin and Wongan Hills. The red circle annotation to the official BOM warning map (figure 1) roughly indicates the impacted area.
Estimated 2022/23 gross cropping area and potential production for these impacted zones of WA total 800kha/1.4mmt for wheat, 200kha/0.4mmt of barley, and 34kha/35kmt of lupins.
The potentially affected area only represents a small proportion of WA’s forecast 13.5mmt+ wheat crop, at 10%. Storm damage can be extremely patchy, so actual crop losses sustained could land anywhere in a wide band of possibilities.
As with all natural disasters, and similar to the recent floods in Victoria and NSW the extent of the dent in production is likely to be highly variable between regions. Estimates of the total impact on production are unlikely to emerge for days to weeks as growers count the cost, and information filters through.
Heavy rain in the lead-up to harvest is also likely to have an impact on harvest timing as producers are forced to wait it out until crops and paddocks dry off sufficiently.
This recent severe hail and storm damage in WA to Australian crop production may not prove to be the end of the wild weather in Australia. The BOM has recently issued further severe thunderstorms and damaging wind warnings for this week in parts of SA also.
Abandoned crops and yield destruction for some impacted producers in the WA wheat belt will put a dent in production forecasts for the west, and help support prices. However the impact will be limited as the affected zones only makeup 10% of WA expected production, and actual damaged crops will certainly be less than this amount. Wet weather will also push harvest further out, compressing grain deliveries.
Click on figure to expand
Click on figure to expand
Data sources: BOM, ABARES
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