Unseasonal rainfalls fail to dampen WA farm businesses

Agribusiness | 10 August 2018

Planfarm Bankwest Benchmarks

Key points

  • Good spring rainfall, particularly in the southern regions, helped offset a dry start to the season
  • Most grain yields were above their 10-year average
  • Strong sheep and wool prices helped drive profits for farmers.


Western Australian farm businesses experienced a rollercoaster ride in 2017, marked by unseasonal rainfalls, but despite the variable weather conditions profits increased for many farmers, according to the latest Planfarm Bankwest Benchmarks report.

The report found WA farmers were resilient last year after experiencing summer rainfall three times the 10-year average followed by one of the driest openings to a season in recent memory.

Good rainfall in spring, particularly in the southern regions, helped businesses achieve better than average yields though – especially those businesses with crops that hadn’t been too severely damaged early in the growing season.

However, parts of the Central and Northern Wheatbelt didn’t fare as well with some crops damaged by low early season rainfall and were unable to fully recover.

Want to know more? Download a copy of the report now.

Table comparing 2017 rainfall to the long-term average, broken down by seasons

Average rainfall in WA broadacre regions in 2017 compared to long-term averages

High yields, strong wool prices drive profits

With the exception of Canola, the report found 2017 grain yields were above their 10-year average, with wheat, barley and lupins yielding 2.2, 2.5 and 1.4 tonnes per hectare, respectively.

However, it was stronger wool prices, which on average were up 19% in 2017 to $9.60 per kilogram, that helped increase farm revenue as sheep and wool made up a 6-year high 19.9% of farming income.

Overall the average operating profit for WA farmers in 2017 was $192.30 per effective hectare, which is up 20.9% from the previous year. Year-on-year, operating profits were also up for the top and bottom 25% of farmers.

Info-graphic summarising the operating profits and increases from 2016 to 2017

Operating profits for WA farmers comparing top 25%, average and bottom 25% in 2016 and 2017

Great Southern Farmer Simon Thomas, who features in the report, said frosting through some of his crops prevented an “absolutely brilliant year”, and that pricing for the season was comparable to the long-term average.

“In general, pricing seemed to come out somewhere near a long-term average, not necessarily good or bad, and to overlay that with higher yields, profit on the 2017 season was reasonable,” Simon said.

To see all the latest insights, results and analysis into the financial and production performance of WA broadacre farm businesses, download a copy of the 2017-18 Planfarm Bankwest Benchmarks report now.

For the full regional data sets, including farming statistics, income and operating costs and a breakdown of farm capital, download a copy of the Detailed Regional Statistics.

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