Kaleidoscope of weather patterns launches season

Three Springs machinery dealer Brett Young also runs a cropping program on leased land. GroundCoverTM photographer Evan Collis caught up with Brett as he started the night shift in early May.

Three Springs machinery dealer Brett Young also runs a cropping program on leased land.
GroundCoverTM photographer Evan Collis caught up with Brett as he started the night shift in early May.

PHOTO: Evan Collis

‘Warm and dry’ characterised the season start across large swathes of southern and western Australia – and climate models predict this will continue. It was a different story in the north. While Cyclone Debbie wreaked havoc on the coast, it brought welcome inland rain for parts of the Queensland and northern NSW grainbelt.

However, where the tropical systems missed, rainfall was well below average. Central western NSW in particular had a brutal start, with no significant rainfall to assist growers at planting.

In Western Australia, some areas experienced their wettest January and February on record, but by May were facing one of the driest seasons in recent memory.

Even so, some like Brett Young, who owns Cunninghams Ag Services in WA’s northern midlands, was still seeing potential for the state this year. He was banking on reasonable rain in  July followed by a cooler August and September. If these conditions prevail then he believed season 2017 would still deliver a good result.

In addition to his equipment dealership, Brett leases a 70-hectare block adjacent to the business.

“We put in a crop each year and demonstrate our equipment there. It’s all about showing local growers what the various machines can do,” he says. He wanted to plant canola this year, but because of the lack of rain he reverted to a “safer” choice, Mace wheat.

“Last year we grew Calingiri – a noodle wheat variety – and had good success with that. Having the cropping as a sideline makes sense for us; we need to keep farming the property and it makes a good return.”