Weekly update - 22 March 2018

Weekly Australian Climate,
Water and Agricultural Update

Key issues

  • During the week ending 21 March 2018, little to no rainfall was received across most of the country, with rainfall being restricted to northern Australia, parts of the eastern and southern coasts, and Tasmania.
  • Maximum temperatures were 4°C to 8°C above average across south-eastern Australia for the week ending 20 March 2018, with the highest anomalies in central and northern New South Wales.
  • Following a drier than average February 2018 across much of southern Australia, March-to-date (1 to 21 March) has been particularly dry across winter cropping regions in central and southern New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
  • The dry conditions have reduced pasture availability for livestock and is likely to have led to an increase in supplementary feeding programs. Dry conditions are also likely to limit field work in the lead up to the planting of this year’s winter crop.
  • The Australian Plague Locust Commission report that the locust population level remained low in most regions during February. The outlook for autumn is for Australian plague locust population densities to remain low in most regions of inland eastern Australia.
  • During the next eight days, rainfall is mainly expected in northern Australia, parts of the east coast, and western Tasmania. A trough and potential formation of a second tropical cyclone across northern Australia in consecutive weeks, are forecast to bring between 25 and 150 millimetres of rain to northern parts of Queensland and eastern parts of the Northern Territory.
  • Water storage levels in the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) decreased during the week ending 22 March 2018 by 139 gigalitres (GL) to 11,924 GL and are at 53 per cent of total capacity. This is 16 percentage points or 3,510 GL less than at the same time last year.
  • Allocation prices in the southern Murray–Darling Basin increased in the week ending 22 March 2018 to $115 per ML. This is an increase of $3 from the same time last week.

Climate

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Rainfall this week

During the week ending 21 March 2018, little to no rainfall was received across most of the country, with rainfall being restricted to northern Australia, parts of the eastern and southern coasts, and Tasmania. Rainfall totals between 15 and 100 millimetres were recorded in Tasmania, far northern Western Australia, northern parts of the Northern Territory, and northern Queensland. Higher totals (exceeding 100 millimetres) were recorded in parts of the Top End, including the highest recorded weekly total of 279 millimetres at Warruwi Airport. Totals between 10 and 25 millimetres were recorded in coastal parts of southern Queensland, along the coast of New South Wales and in eastern Victoria. Similar totals were recorded in southern parts of Western Australia.

Rainfall - week ending 21 March 2018

Map showing weekly rainfall totals in Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description. 

©Commonwealth of Australia 2018, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 21/03/2018

Note: The rainfall analyses and associated maps utilise data contained in the Bureau of Meteorology climate database, the Australian Data Archive for Meteorology (ADAM). The analyses are initially produced automatically from real-time data with limited quality control. They are intended to provide a general overview of rainfall across Australia as quickly as possible after the observations are received. For further information go to Weekly Rainfall Update.

Temperature anomalies this week

For the week ending 20 March 2018, maximum temperatures were 4°C to 8°C above average across south-eastern Australia, with the highest anomalies in central and northern New South Wales. They were 2°C to 4°C above average in central parts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Maximum temperatures were close to average for the remainder of Australia. Minimum temperatures were close to average for most of the country, with the exception of northern New South Wales, and south-western Queensland where they were 2°C to 4°C above average.

Maximum temperature anomalies - week ending 20 March 2018

Map showing maximum temperature anomalies in Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description. 

©Commonwealth of Australia 2018, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 20/03/2018

Minimum temperature anomalies - week ending 20 March 2018

Map showing minimum temperature anomalies in Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.] 

©Commonwealth of Australia 2018, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 20/03/2018

Note: Spatial temperature analyses are based on historical weekly temperature data provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. These temperature anomaly maps show the departure of the maximum and minimum temperatures from their long-term averages. Temperature anomalies are calculated using high-resolution gridded datasets from 1911 onwards. For further information go to Daily maximum temperature for Australia.

Monthly rainfall to date

Dry conditions have continued across southern Australia during March 2018, following a drier than average February. March-to-date (1 to 21 March) rainfall remains at less than 20 per cent of the monthly average across winter cropping regions in central and southern New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Soil moisture levels in these areas are also very much below average.

Due to the current dry state of soils, the availability of soil moisture to plants from future rainfall events may be initially limited and have reduced effectiveness to promote growth until the soil water balance is restored. The drying of the soil profile is likely to have been further exacerbated by recent warmer than average temperatures and with little rain forecast in southern Australia during the next 8 days soil moisture is unlikely to improve substantially during the remainder of the month. The dry conditions have reduced pasture availability for livestock and is likely to have led to an increase in supplementary feeding programs.

Rainfall percentages 1 to 21 March 2018

 

Note: This map compares the rainfall received since the start of the current month with the long-term average for the entire month.
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Australian Plague Locust

The Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) produces a monthly Locust Bulletin during the periods of locust activity (spring, summer and autumn). The bulletin gives regional summaries of the locust situation and weather events of potential significance for locust development. It also provides a forecast of likely developments for the next two months (or from autumn to spring) for the Australian plague locust (Chortoicetes terminifera), spur-throated locust (Austracris guttulosa), and the migratory locust (Locusta migratoria).

According to the APLC, the Australian plague locust population level remained low in most regions during February. Small increases in population density from very low levels in previous months were detected in part of Central West New South Wales and in Southwest Queensland. Although some localised low density breeding is likely to have occurred in other regions during January and February, most habitats dried out rapidly and prolonged high temperatures are likely to have caused increased mortality of nymphs and adults.

The outlook for autumn is for Australian plague locust population densities to remain low in most regions of inland eastern Australia. Given the current low population levels, there is a low risk of regional infestations developing and a very low risk of swarms affecting any agricultural region during autumn. At this stage there is no indication of high density nymph infestations developing in any region during spring.

For further information, go to Australian Plague Locust Commission

Australian Plague Locust Distribution 1 to 28 February 2018

Map of the total forecast rainfall for the next 8 days. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description. 

Densities estimated for areas of locust habitat, based on current surveys and reports from current and previous month.
©Commonwealth of Australia 2018, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources   Issued: 01/03/2018

Rainfall forecast for the next 8 days

During the next eight days, rainfall is mainly expected in northern Australia, parts of the east coast, and western Tasmania. A trough and potential formation of a tropical cyclone in the Gulf of Carpentaria are forecast to bring between 25 and 150 millimetres of rain to northern parts of Queensland and eastern parts of the Northern Territory. Higher totals (exceeding 200 millimetres) are forecast around Cairns and southern parts of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Elsewhere, totals between 25 and 100 millimetres are forecast for north-eastern parts of coastal New South Wales, eastern parts of the Pilbara, and western Tasmania.

This rainfall forecast is produced from computer models. As it contains no input from weather forecasters, it is important to check local forecasts and warnings issued by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Total forecast rainfall (mm) for the period 22 to 29 March 2018

Map of the total forecast rainfall for the next 8 days. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description. 

Source: ©Commonwealth of Australia 2018, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 22/03/2018

Water

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Water availability

Water storage levels in the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) decreased during the week ending 22 March 2018 by 139 gigalitres (GL) to 11,924 GL and are at 53 per cent of total capacity. This is 16 percentage points or 3,510 GL less than at the same time last year.

Visit the interactive Tableau data dashboard

Water storages in the Murray-Darling Basin (NSW, Victoria and Queensland)

Line graph showing water storages in the Murray–Darling Basin (NSW, Victoria and Queensland) from 2001 to 2018, measured as a percentage of the total storage of 22,598 gigalitres.

Information on water available in dams used for irrigation the Murray–Darling Basin from 1 January 2001 to 22 March 2018 is shown above. The top horizontal (short dash) line indicates the storage level during a similar time last year. The bottom horizontal (long dash) line indicates the amount of ‘dead’ or unusable storage.

Water allocations

The current water allocations for the 2017–18 water trading season for licence holders in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia water systems are summarised in the following table and charts.

On 15 March 2018 NSW Department of Primary Industries – Water announced allocation increases of:

  • 4 per cent for NSW Murrumbidgee general security to 38 per cent
  • 2 per cent for NSW Murray general security to 51 per cent

On 15 March 2018 the Resource Manager for Northern Victoria announced seasonal determination increases of:

  • 3 per cent for Victoria Campaspe low reliability to 58 per cent
Water allocations in the Murray–Darling Basin (NSW, Victoria and South Australia)

Allocations at

22 March 2018

15 March 2018

New South Wales

General security

High security

General security

High security

NSW Murray

51%

97%

51%

97%

NSW Murrumbidgee

38%

95%

38%

95%

NSW Lower Darling

100%

100%

100%

100%

NSW Macquarie and Cudgegong

38%

100%

38%

100%

NSW Hunter

100%

100%

100%

100%

NSW Lachlan

2%

100%

2%

100%

NSW Lower Namoi

7%

100%

7%

100%

NSW Upper Namoi

100%

100%

100%

100%

NSW Gwydir

18%

100%

18%

100%

NSW Border Rivers

100%(a)/19.62%(b)

100%

100%(a)/19.62%(b)

100%

NSW Peel

100%

100%

100%

100%

Victoria

Low reliability

High reliability

Low reliability

High reliability

Victoria Murray

0%

100%

0%

100%

Victoria Goulburn

0%

100%

0%

100%

Victoria Campaspe

58%

100%

58%

100%

Victoria Loddon

0%

100%

0%

100%

Victoria Bullarook

100%

100%

100%

100%

Victoria Broken

100%

100%

100%

100%

South Australia

 

Class 3a/3b

 

Class 3a/3b

South Australia Murray

 

100%

 

100%

Select water allocation percentages in the southern Murray-Darling Basin

 

 

 

 

Water markets

Allocation prices in the southern Murray–Darling Basin increased in the week ending 22 March 2018 to $115 per ML. This is an increase of $3 from the same time last week. This contrasts with an average price of $105 in February across the whole southern MDB, and $42 during the same month last year.

Allocation trade activity in the southern Murray–Darling Basin

Allocation trade activity in the southern Murray-Darling Basin. The trades shown reflect market activity and do not encompass all register trades. The price line reflects locally fitted price values for the entire southern Murray-Darling Basin.  

The trades shown reflect estimated market activity and do not encompass all register trades. The price line reflects locally fitted price values for the entire southern Murray–Darling Basin. Data shown is current until 22 March 2018. Trade activity is shown as colour density.

Allocation trade prices, southern Murray–Darling Basin trade zones
 

Southern MDB

Victoria Goulburn

SA Murray

NSW Murrumbidgee

Victoria Murray

NSW Murray

Current week:
16/03/18 – 22/03/18

$115.39

$109.14

$108.30

$154.06

$120.17

$112.62

Last week:
09/03/18 – 15/03/18

$112.76

$96.29

$108.31

$149.10

$112.44

$109.57

February 2018

$105.11

$82.05

$112.79

$130.68

$108.21

$108.51

February 2017

$41.86

$50.76

$54.28

$21.49

$49.71

$43.83

Commodities

Current indicators – 22 March 2018

IndicatorWeek endedUnitLatest pricePrice week priorWeekly changePrice 12 months priorYear on year changeChart

Selected world indicator prices

Australian Dollar – AUD/USD Exchange Rate21-MarUS$/A$0.780.780%0.771%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart
Wheat – US no. 2 hard red winter wheat, fob Gulf20-MarUS$/t244256-5%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.19724%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart
Coarse Grains – US no. 2 yellow corn, fob Gulf21-MarUS$/t174179-3%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.1599%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart
Canola – Rapeseed, Europe, fob Hamburga20-MarUS$/t425426<1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.446-5%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.chart
Cotton – Cotlook 'A' Index21-MarUSc/lb92.293.1<1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.87.26%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart
Sugar – Intercontinental Exchange, nearby futures, no.11 contract21-MarUSc/lb12.712.8<1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.17.7-28%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.chart
Wool – Eastern Market Indicator15-MarAc/kg clean1,7511,778-2%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.1,54613%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart
Wool – Western Market Indicator16-MarAc/kg clean1,8341,859-1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.1,55418%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart

Selected domestic crop indicator prices

Milling Wheat – ASW1, track quote, Port Adelaide, SA20-MarA$/t240242<1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.18530%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart
Feed Wheat – General purpose, Sydney, NSW21-MarA$/t2782780%21132%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart
Feed Barley – Sydney, NSW21-MarA$/t2792790%19245%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart
Canola – Portland, Vic.19-MarA$/t4924971%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.510-4%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.chart
Grain Sorghum – Sydney, NSW21-MarA$/t3503500%24742%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart

Selected domestic livestock indicator prices

Beef – Eastern Young Cattle Indicator15-MarAc/kg cwt562566<1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.611-8%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.chart
Mutton – Mutton indicator (18-24 kg fat score 2-3), Vic16-MarAc/kg cwt4214073%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.443-5%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.chart
Lamb – Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator15-MarAc/kg cwt6075972%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.622-2%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.chart
Pig – Eastern Seaboard (60.1-75 kg), average of buyers & sellers09-MarAc/kg cwt2752750%348-21%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.chart
Goat – Eastern States (12.1-16 kg)12-MarAc/kg cwt4664660%651-28%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.chart
Live cattle – Light steers ex Darwin to Indonesia17-MarAc/kg lwt3203200%345-7%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.chart
Live sheep – Live wether (Muchea WA saleyard) to Middle East19-Mar$/head1211173%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.1137%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart

Global Dairy Trade weighted average pricesa

Dairy – Whole milk powder20-MarUS$/t3,2263,232<1%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.2,85513%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart
Dairy – Skim milk powder20-MarUS$/t1,8872,051-8%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.1,948-3%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.chart
Dairy – Cheddar cheese20-MarUS$/t3,6093,759-4%This is an image of a white arrow in a red circle indicating a decrease in percentage points.3,4066%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart
Dairy – Anhydrous milk fat20-MarUS$/t6,2496,245<1%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.5,7998%This is an image of an white arrow in a green circle indicating an increase in percentage points.chart

a Global Dairy Trade prices are updated twice monthly on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

Movements in selected fruit and vegetable prices
Data attribution

Last reviewed:
22 Mar 2018