Rain and hail damages record grain crops in West Australian wheatbelt – ABC News

Rain and hail damages record grain crops in West Australian wheatbelt
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Unseasonal storms have dumped rain and hail, damaging ripe grain crops  in Western Australia.
Farmers across the wheatbelt had just begun harvesting what was expected to be another near-record grain crop, but most harvesters have now stopped due to widespread wet weather. 
The WA grain crop is expected to be 23 million tonnes, on par with last year's record-breaking season. 
Near Cadoux, 200 kilometres north-east of Perth, Shaun Kalajzic watched a big black cloud dump 50 millimetres of rain in an hour on his parents' neighbouring property on Saturday. 
"It looked very dark and there was just no wind. It was basically just sitting in one position and just let loose," he said. 
"We do get our standard harvest storms, but nothing to that intensity in a very long time as far as I can remember." 
Mr Kalajzic said 400 hectares of canola, which was expected to yield at about 2 tonnes per hectare, had lost about 20 to 30 per cent of yield potential due to hail damage.
"It was probably about a week off harvesting, and one of our best canola crops that we've ever had, but this has now taken some of the shine off the top, but that is what your insurance is for," he said. 
"We consider ourselves lucky because our neighbour didn't fare as well, as [their crop] was ripe and ready to harvest, and that's basically a wipe out."
The grower said family had also had wheat crops impacted by the weather, losing 10 to 30 per cent of potential yield, but the crop had been somewhat protected as it was still slightly green. 
About 720 kilometres south-east of Perth, Mic Fels, who farms near Esperance, said his average rain for October was usually 36mm, but this year he had tipped 82mm from the gauge this month. 
"The first half of October we were still gratefully watching it fill our crops, but now our canola is ready, barley is all but ready and the wheat is rapidly losing its green, so it's not really contributing to yield now, it's probably heading in the opposite direction," Mr Fels said. 
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"Through the central wheatbelt they have the F word, down on the south coast we have the S word which is S for sprouting."
The BOM's modelling suggests the La Niña set to hang around until early 2023, but the negative IOD is on track to collapse at the end of spring.
Sprouted grain is whole grain that has started germinating, and while it is popular in some health food circles, it results in a significant grain price penalty for farmers. 
Mr Fels said he was concerned some varieties would succumb to weeks of rain and humidity and begin germinating.
"If the rain does keep coming I think it could be pretty disappointing," he said.
"We are already well over $100 a tonne below international pricing in WA. To take another 100 of that would be pretty painful."
However, Mr Fels remained optimistic, saying he could remember huddling by a fire for warmth in November in previous years, and "that year turned out alright". 
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