Better late than never

27 Jul, 2006 07:00 PM

WITH rains falling over much of the state this week and a significant front expected in the agricultural areas today, winter could finally be here.

It has been a long wait for the skies to finally open, with the driest start to winter on record causing havoc among the state's farming communities.

The rains may be too late to promote strong pasture growth and save crops in many areas, but it could be a matter of "better late than never".

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts the weather to settle into a more normal winter pattern.

Bureau forecaster Lloyd Connelly said the front expected today would fall in the South-West and push up through the Wheatbelt, where lighter rain would fall in the northern region.

He said the western Wheatbelt could see 10-15mm from this front, while the northern and eastern Wheatbelt might see up to 5mm.

Friday would see showers contracting through the coastal areas.

Mr Lloyd said it looked like a system would come through on Saturday, but it would be weaker than today's front.

Saturday's rain might only be significant for people in the lower South-West and most of the Wheatbelt would miss out, he said.

Mr Lloyd said there were good signs that a reasonable front would come through early next week, but was cautious to predict high rainfall.

He said next week was a long way off and he would not want to get anyone's hopes up.

"The weather pattern has settled into a more normal winter pattern and therefore it is likely that we could see rain early next week," Mr Lloyd said.

While rains fell throughout most of southern WA last week, some areas were not as lucky as others.

Bureau of Meteorology rainfall figures reveal the Central-West, Lower-West and South-West regions were drenched by the rains earlier this week, with many towns receiving more than 30mm.

Rosa Brook came out on top with 45mm recorded over two days.

Dwellingup, Mandurah and Bickley were close behind with 38mm.

While the rain may be too late for Geraldton farmers - with many not putting in a crop at all - these areas received up to 32mm.

The south coastal areas, central Wheatbelt and Great Southern collected an average of about 12mm, with 22mm in Wandering.

While Esperance farmers have kept quiet throughout the dry spell with a ripper season seen by most in the southern coastal areas, they received less than 1mm from the rains earlier this week.

Agriculture Department grains industry development director David Barron said the recent rains would be of great value to some but not to others.

He said some farmers had not received enough rain to have an impact on their crops and pasture germination.

Mr Barron said the rains would have an impact on plant growth if there were follow-up rains.

He said it depended where farmers were situated, but for many, follow-up rains through to August would mean the recent rains would have a significant impact on pasture.

Mr Barron said ryegrasses would do well with the recent showers, whereas pasture legumes might not benefit, depending on whether they had germinated.

He said for crops that germinated a month ago, the rains would have a major impact, and the crops that had not would start to germinate.

Mr Barron said the outlook did not look like enough rain was on its way to produce great crops this year.



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