Eyes on the skies

30 Jun, 2011 08:00 AM
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Lake Grace farmers Greg Argent (left) and Doug Clarke check out a germinating wheat crop on Mr Clarke's property last week.
Lake Grace farmers Greg Argent (left) and Doug Clarke check out a germinating wheat crop on Mr Clarke's property last week.

CENTRAL and Great Southern Wheatbelt farmers were pinning their season's hopes on a major south west frontal system crossing the coast this week.

As Farm Weekly went to press, Bureau of Meteorology forecasters were predicting widely distributed rainfall patterns extending throughout the State's Wheatbelt on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Any rain will continue to boost crop prospects for the majority of the State's grain growers in districts where substantial summer rainfall was recorded.

There is still a chance the State could record another double digit harvest of more than 10 million tonnes of grain.

But it was uncertain whether predicted rainfall totals would be recorded in districts where emerging crops and pastures were struggling and dams were dry.

Farmers in those areas have been clear that showery activities will not solve their problems.

Salmon Gums farmer Ian Guest, put it succinctly: "Even if it is a good rain it won't help us".

Having recorded only 10.4mm of rain for the year, Ian is resigned to a poor year.

"We only put in 38 per cent of the crop we planned and we've reduced our sheep numbers," he said.

"I went to Esperance last weekend and bought sheep feed which is the first time I've ever had to do that.

"Fortunately we've got a central dam with water and I'm carting water throughout the farm.

"The crops are struggling and realistically the sowing window has gone.

"If we did get a really big rain event, we might put in some more crop but right now I'm looking forward to next year."

Kulin farmer John Bowey was hoping for good rain to kick a 3000ha program established with his brother Brian.

"We got between 6.5mm and 15mm last week and that has kept crops going but they are in need of a decent drink," he said.

"The front looks promising and we're all hoping it delivers."

Kellerberrin farmer Brad Jones was thankful for his farm being on the receiving end of moisture in a district with plenty of dry spots.

"We got 28mm in May and between 10mm and 12mm for June and a good drop this week will be really beneficial to the crops," he said.

"Generally the crops look okay and you can almost hear them growing.

"Apart from wind, it has been fairly warm here so crops have got away well."

At Southern Cross, local farmer Clint Della Bosca, who farms south of the town, was hoping for a share of any rainfall booty.

"We've had about 12mm here over the last two weeks and we just want the rain to keep coming," he said. "The forecasters say we could get moderate falls with some thinner showers later in the week.

"But on my dad's property north of the town, it's still dry."

At Newdegate, Leon Clarke was hoping forecasters would be on the money with predictions.

"They're tipping 10mm but we'll take as much as we can get," he said.

"It's still a long way to the end of the season so we're hoping the rain keeps coming.

"We got 10mm last Friday and that freshened up the crops but we've got no subsoil moisture so we really need a decent drop to kick the crops along."

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