AG AREAS - SOIL MOISTURE RUNS HIGH IN THE EAST, CAN WE SEE IT IMPROVE FOR THE SOUTH AND WEST?

The moisture content throughout the southeast and eastern inland is remaining very high with flooding being a concern throughout most of this year for the eastern coastal areas and inland portions of QLD in recent weeks.


Many areas in the east have had issues getting crops in and some of these crops planted have been lost due to excessive rainfall and moisture loads.


It is the opposite in parts of SA where a lack of rainfall for some has seen crops struggle to take off in the ground and this lack of moisture has been acute with dry winds and sunny warm days.


But there are some chances for a shift in conditions as we move through the outlook period, and the impacts can be seen on the soil moisture chart.


This Week -Analysis

The higher-than-average rainfall in recent weeks and indeed months has left catchments saturated in the east with some struggling to get crops in and save crops that are in the ground due to the bog that has been Autumn. By contrast, the drier weather over SA has led to crops already put in struggling with conditions drying out further by the day with the lack of decent rainfall and warmer weather on the way with a dry airmass. Out over WA, the soil moisture is near normal over the SWLD but note the impact across North Central WA, where we have very much saturated catchments. This analysis does not take in the scans coming through this morning which will be available tomorrow. But I can assure you, that the saturation of catchments through that region will continue to expand, with some locations recording 10-20x the May average in some cases.

The moisture values over in WA are interesting and reflect the influence thus far of the Indian Ocean Dipole. That will run across the interior of the nation with the higher risk of above average moisture values travelling through from west to east. The more frontal weather we see across the nation's south, the further south this moisture feed will come throughout the short term but indeed through Winter. This is why many models are going off the charts for widespread above average rainfall. I will say there is devil in the detail on that and it is not a forgone conclusion that all areas will see above average rainfall as per some of the publicly available material. The IOD will however lift the chances of above average rainfall for many areas of the nation which has been ongoing through the year for areas away from SA.

Next Week - End of May

By the end of May, you can see the influence of that moisture coming through WA and feeding the cold fronts spreading throughout southern Australia, leading to improving conditions for cropping and feed farmers, certainly looking at a swing with the westerly wind belt getting involved. As mentioned above, the role of the Indian Ocean quite clear through WA where the influence is highest at this time of year before we see the Dipole develop, but that is a sign of what is to come across the nation. In the east, with the persistent onshore winds and showery weather, the catchments are set to remain near saturated. This opens the door for flood risks into June if we have any major rainfall events emerge through the interior. Thankfully, with a shift in the rainfall distribution to being via westerly winds, this will hopefully dry out the eastern inland and wet up the southern inland of the nation. No doubt, there is a shift forecast for many Ag Areas.

So, improving soil moisture values are forecast through the end of the month and the above average rainfall chances will be spreading through Southern Australia along the northward moving westerly wind belt with widespread moisture being drawn into the frontal weather moving through from west to east.

More to come through the coming weeks as we track the changing weather pattern from the easterly dominance through to the westerly wind dominance.