Low rain knifes the big planting optimism

28 May, 2008 10:46 AM
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Bindi Bindi farmer Bruce Piper was upbeat this week despite a disappointing weekend when little rain fell on the family property. “We seem to be in a rain shadow,” he said. “I think north of us copped a bit but we’re still looking for a good rain.”
Bindi Bindi farmer Bruce Piper was upbeat this week despite a disappointing weekend when little rain fell on the family property. “We seem to be in a rain shadow,” he said. “I think north of us copped a bit but we’re still looking for a good rain.”

THE POTENTIAL for a record cropping season in WA this year is on a knife edge.

While most South West districts benefitted from heavy rain last weekend to set up record canola and wheat plantings, the major broadacre grain-growing areas in the north, central and southeast Wheatbelt are still in need of more rain.

Hopes are high that a forecast frontal system will deliver substantial rains to the areas on Friday.

Between 15mm and 25mm is needed to kick crops away and set up yield potential. Rain also is needed to freshen up drying pastures for livestock.

Broomehill farmers Craig and Brant Dennis will finish their cropping program this week after a timely 32mm of rain.

"It was getting a bit dry and we’re still hand feeding sheep," Craig said.

"But we’ve been going 24 hours a day for the last four weeks to get the crop in and last weekend’s rain was very timely.

"During the dry period we stuck to sowing into the stubbles and we’re finishing up on the pastures this week.

"Hopefully we’ll get more rain soon to push the crop germinations and get a good go at the remaining weeds."

McIntosh and Son Katanning salesman Jamie Douglas said more than 25mm of rain that was recorded in many parts of the district last weekend kicked in wheat sowings.

"Farmers will start wheat now and they won’t stop," he said.

"The canola is in and up and to the west I saw some great canola crops.

"It was very timely rain and everybody has picked up with enthusiasm to finish programs."

AgWest Machinery Lake Grace manager Bruce Cobb said rain had boosted confidence of a good season.

"I think everybody regarded last weekend’s rain at just magic for the season," he said.

"It sparked a few inquiries on new machinery which is a sign that farmers are keen to plan ahead with their machinery requirements.

"I would estimate about 80 per cent of the district’s crop is in with some people finished their programs."

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