City dwellers enjoying Perth’s run of glorious sunny winter days have been urged to spare a thought for WA farmers in desperate need of rain.
While the weekend sunshine lured crowds to Perth’s beaches and playgrounds, WA’s long dry spell is causing havoc for grain growers.
Weather Bureau duty forecaster Ricus Lombard said Perth was on track for its warmest June on record after averaging 23C for the first two weeks of winter.
The city has received just 26mm of rain this month, well below the June average of 172mm.
Mr Lombard said a slow-moving system could bring some patchy rain to the Wheatbelt this week, but it was not a true cold front.
“Coastal fringes could see higher amounts, but throughout the Wheatbelt, unfortunately, there is a lot of uncertainty again,” he said.
Grain Industry Association of WA chief executive Larissa Taylor said the grain sector was increasingly concerned about the dry start to the season, particularly in the Kwinana and Geraldton port zones.
“The medium range forecasts collectively point towards a drier than average spring,” she said. “These conditions will be especially challenging for grain growers who suffered financial impact from frosts in 2016.”
Ms Taylor said people with family or business connections in the bush should remember to get in touch and check how they were going.
York farmer and Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook said the long-term forecast for a continued dry spell was worrying.
“This is one of the tougher ones,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the summer rain we had earlier on, we’d be in really serious trouble. It’s not a disaster yet, but it doesn’t have a good feel about it.”
Mr Seabrook said it was also becoming increasingly difficult for livestock farmers to feed their animals.
“I’ve got a few sheep here and the paddock last year that had green feed in it that was about 200mm deep, this year the paddock is absolutely brown bare, there’s not a living thing in it,” he said.
WA Farmers president Tony York, who farms at Tammin in the Central Wheatbelt, said the season’s late opening rains meant it was likely the value of grain crops would be down at least $1 billion on last year.
“We’re all still looking to the sky and hoping for good rain in the next couple of weeks,” he said. “It just makes it more difficult to see us retrieving an average season at this late stage.”
For budding surfer Scotty Lawless, 5, yesterday was ideal beach weather.
Her father, former chef turned hospitality consultant Iain Lawless, said the winter’s day high of 23.4C would be considered a summer “scorcher” in his native Scotland.