Farmers face neutral forecasts as they plan for the season ahead


In its most recent climate update, the Bureau of Meteorology has said that, while the La Nina was still in place, it was easing.

Ocean temperatures have eased below La Nina thresholds, however the atmosphere has yet to respond, and remains La Nina-like.

The Bureau said that all the models it surveyed anticipated a return to neutral conditions in the Pacific that would last until at least mid-autumn.

Climate forecasters The Break, a team operated by Agriculture Victoria, said there was the likelihood of neutral conditions over the next three months.

Further out, some models are suggesting there could be drier than average conditions with no models forecasting a wetter than average autumn and early winter.

Grains Research and Development Corporation northern panel chair and Chinchilla grain grower Arthur Gearon said having a neutral outlook may provide a respite for some growers after the run of forecast wet seasons, where the grower community traditionally ratchets up spending to take advantage of better growing season conditions.

"To be honest, there are probably a few people out there that are not unhappy seeing a neutral forecast," he said.

"It's been a tremendously stressful few years and with the wet forecasts at the start of the year farmers have been gearing their systems towards pushing for big yields."

"With the high cost of inputs and then the roller-coaster ride we've had in many parts with flooding it has been a really taxing couple of years."

Mr Gearon said farmers would plan ahead according to what they had in front of them.

"With no clear signal to either wetter or drier conditions people will generally follow their fixed rotations and input strategies and will tailor the specifics of the program when the season gets going."

"We all know the climate drivers do not always mean rain or dry, you look at the 2020 La Nina when it was actually drier in many parts of Queensland, farmers will just stick to their long term management programs."

In the short-term a cold blast will sweep southern Australia while there is the possibility of useful falls in the north.

The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is currently moderate to strong and over the eastern Indian Ocean. Most models expect it to move across Indonesia and towards the western Pacific in the coming week, with a possible decline in strength.

While across Indonesia, the MJO may increase the chance of an active monsoon period in northern Australia.

Total rainfall tallies that have a 75 per cent chance of occurring for February to April. Source BOM

Full article written by Gregor Heard and can be found on Farm Online.

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