Friday¹s front delivers Good rains on weekend delight most farmers

26 May, 2004 10:00 PM
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SEASON-breaking rain in the northern and central wheatbelt on Sunday has triggered a flurry of seeding activity that will see most programs completed within the next two weeks.

But for the rest of the state¹s grain growers, apart from some coastal areas, more rain is needed.

There is hope of another frontal system reaching WA next week. This would have a huge positive impact on prospects for another bumper crop to match last year¹s state record production.

For many delighted farmers the amount of rain was surprising after good amounts were recorded from last Friday¹s frontal system.

Shower activity was forecast but not soaking rain. It came courtesy of an upper level trough that started about 3pm on Sunday afternoon as a drizzle before unloading steady soaking rain until midnight.

³It came as a real surprise,² Yorkrakine farmer Libby Hutchinson said. ³We got 11mm on Friday and then 29mm on Sunday and now we¹ll be able to complete our program.

³Before Friday we were seriously looking at our cropping options but this rain has solved all that.²

At Wongan Hills, McIntosh and Son salesman Kevin Tonkin said half of the farmers in the district would be finished seeding this week.

³It was good soaking rain and we got about 37mm on the Sunday after 10-11mm on the Friday,² he said. ³People weren¹t expecting to get that much.²

Wyalkatchem machinery agent Peter Wood said the 12mm of rain that fell in the shire last Friday was the biggest rainfall event this year.

³Then we got 29mm on the Sunday which was an absolute surprise and it was just good soaking rain.

³It has really given everybody a lift.²

Hutton and Northey salesman Nick Allen, Merredin, also said the rain was unexpected.

³Over the weekend we got nearly an inch so that constitutes a break,² he said. ³This will really give everybody a boost of confidence.²

According to Buntine farmer Leanne McAlpine, 16-23mm fell on the family property on Sunday after 12mm was recorded on the Friday.

³It¹s the best start we¹ve had in quite a few years,² she said. ³Our program will go ahead now as planned.²

Further north the smiles were bigger, particularly in places like Tardun and Pindar which have suffered several lean years recently.

At Pindar, Peter and Miriam Barnetson received good falls on the Friday with between 10 and 21mm falling throughout their property to boost canola and lupin germination.

³We only got a bit of Sunday¹s rain, around 2mm, but we¹re very happy,² Mrs Barnetson said.

With a little over 25mm on Sunday, Robert and Tanya Kitto, Mullewa were seeding wheat this week.

³It was great rain that just soaked in,² Tanya said. ³We got 80 points on the Friday so it has really set up the wheat program.²

At Kalannie, another area that has had a history of poor seasons, local farmer Graeme Hathway declared the district was ³in business.²

³We got 15mm on the Friday and 10mm on the Sunday so it will help everybody complete programs,² he said. ³We had bits and pieces of moisture for the past three weeks but this rain has helped enormously.²

Dalwallinu machinery dealer principal Haydn Jolly said Sunday¹s rain means most farmers would be finished programs within the week.

³We got 20mm over the weekend and that has really helped to get the season underway,² he said. ³Hopefully we¹ll get good follow-up rain to consolidate programs.²

Sunday¹s rain swept through in a band petering out north of Great Eastern Highway.

According to Narembeen farmer John Hunter, he was grateful for nearly 12mm of rain that fell last Friday.

³We¹re doing a bit of seeding where we can but we¹re still waiting for a good rain,² he said. ³It¹s not overly wet and we¹ve only put in 1000ac of a 6000ac program.²

To the south, Lake Grace salesman Neville Moulden, AgWest Machinery, said the majority of farmers were seeding.

³We got 12mm on the Friday and it was enough to get people going,² he said. ³There¹s a strip from Hyden to Lake King that already had received between six and nine inches for the year so there¹s plenty of subsoil moisture.

³In some other areas like Kulin, it¹s still pretty dry.²

Further south towards Gnowangerup, Mindarabin farmer Ian Hill described last Friday¹s rainfall as ³teasing rain.²

³We got six to 12mm throughout the district but with no rain in sight we¹ll see canola dropping out of programs,² he said. ³If we don¹t get rain by May 30, probably nobody will plant canola around here.²

Heavy falls along the south coast of the state have given farmers an excellent start to the season though farmers in districts to the north, such as Borden are looking for more rain.

East of Esperance, southern frontal activity has set up a good season for most farmers.

But at Beaumont, to the north, local farmer Darren Inkster said the district required another 25mm of rain.

³What we don¹t want is a big blow,² he said. ³Lupins have been finished and we¹re starting canola but we need the soil profile to set up, especially on some of our more sandy country.²

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