Tough on some and kind on others…2014 so far.
The New Year of 2014 was upon us with its ever increasing speed and now we are sprinting through the year towards the cooler autumn/winter months, where many are hoping to see increased rainfall for the parched areas of our cropping country.
Rainfall over Australia as a whole for the summer of 2013 – 2014 was 15% below the long-term average according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), however there were marked differences between the west and east, with NSW and Victoria recording 46% and 30% below average falls respectively.
These conditions were still not as tough as Queensland has suffered though, with rainfall in the top north state being recorded in the lowest 10% of records. In the month of March 2014, the Queensland government had declared 79% of the state to be in drought, the largest percentage ever recorded. This drought has put an enormous choke-hold on crop yields for the 2013/2014 season with crops like sorghum down by as much as 40% on the previous year and wheat production to see a decrease of 20-30% according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) crop report for February 2014.
Along with the short supply of rain came particularly warm temperatures which put increased stress on the already dry cropping land. Data provided by BOM tells us that Victoria’s temps were among the 3rd warmest on record, 5th warmest for NSW and 10th warmest for QLD.
Conditions in the west however, were a much brighter picture. Wheat production is estimated to have increased by as much as 58% for the season, with Barley rolling in at a whopping 72% rise (ABARES). Higher that average rainfall has contributed to these increases with many parts of the state recording the 12th wettest summer on record (BOM).
Looking ahead to the 2014 winter months, the current rainfall and temperature trends are expected to continue with QLD heading into a drier than normal autumn and wetter than normal in WA (BOM). With the rest of the country looking at meeting the seasonal averages we can hope that the trends will turn more favourable for the areas that have been doing it tough so far in 2014.