SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Severe frost in the west and hot and dry conditions in the east have eliminated hundreds of thousands of tonnes from Australia’s 2019-20 grain harvest, Rabobank said in its Agribusiness Monthly October report.

Western Australia was hit with a catastrophic frost during the first half of September that added another blow to the struggling crop. Temperatures dropped to below zero degree C for periods of six to eight hours, causing widespread flower and stem frost damage. Warm and dry weather was seen prior to and after the frost, Rabobank said.

In other parts of Australia, ongoing dry conditions and unseasonably high temperatures have stopped crop development.

A majority of the winter cropping regions will end the growing season with below-average rainfall, Rabobank said. 

“Drought-affected regions saw little to no rain during September,” it said. “Moree

has not registered any rain since July 10 and the last fall above 10 millimeters was on May 4. For a large part of the region, soil moisture is within the lowest 1 percent recorded.”

The Bureau of Meteorology said a large portion of the country has less than 30% chance of receiving median rainfall during the next three months.

A positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is the basis for expectations of dry conditions and warmer-than-average temperatures. BOM expects that dry conditions may continue, due to a negative Southern Annular Mode (SAM), Rabobank said.

A negative SAM is usually associated with drier-than-average conditions on the east coast.