Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 4


Wheat, Crop yield, Western Australia, Wheatbelt region (W.A.), Geraldton

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Farmers consider many factors in deciding whether to start sowing wheat, but the most important are the amount of rain and time of year. In this study we assessed the chances of farmers in the north-eastern wheatbelt (less than 325 mm rainfall) receiving enough rain to sow wheat early. In low rainfall areas such as this, where an early finish to the season is likely, it is especially important that farmers take advantage of all early sowing opportunities. The potential benefits of sowing wheat early generally outweigh the associated risks, particularly in lower rainfall areas. However, early sowing depends on an early break to the season, and this will not happen every year. We determined a 'planting rule' for the north-eastern wheatbelt which defined the amount of rain needed before sowing could start. The planting rule' was developed by asking 25 farmers about their planting decisions. We then used rainfall records to determine the chances of receiving early sowing opportunities to the season.