Market Morsel: Jack Frost strikes at WA crop

Grain | 6th September 2021 | By Andrew Whitelaw

Market Morsel

Over the weekend, parts of the Western Australian cropping belt was hit by Jack Frost.  This is an absolute kick in the guts. The WA crop was on track to produce a record crop; this may now be at risk.

I hate frost. At least with a drought, it sneaks up on you. A frost can and destroy all your hopes and aspirations overnight.

The data in the charts below is an aggregation of a number of stations in the Kwinana port zone. The Kwinana zone is the largest grain production region and the focus of Jack Frost’s attention.

The first chart below shows the weekly minimum temperature as a seasonality, with 2021 overlaid. It is important to note that this is the average of a number of stations; this is to show the extreme of this weekend fall.

The second chart shows the minimum monthly temperature going back to 2011. As we can see, the temperature was the lowest since September 2016, which recorded a lower minimum.

It is always very hard to ascertain the damage caused by frost. There will certainly be individual farmers who have lost out; the question is how widespread the damage will be?

In 2016 by September, the prospects of the crop were fantastic, and Kwinana was expected to produce 5.6mmt. The end result was 4.5mmt, a big fall. Whilst this was a reduction primarily caused by the frost – it wasn’t as bad as the initial expectations.

This is a terrible result for the farmers who have been impacted. The reality is that the damage will only be certain in the coming weeks. Fingers crossed that it is isolated.


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