Hope is drying up for solid winter rains

30 Jun, 2017 04:00 AM
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ONGERUP  farmer Matt Campbell recorded a timely 26 millimetres of rain on the family farming property in the past week to nudge falls close to the June average.  Here, Matt is checking germinations of Planet barley sown into canola stubble on May 10.  “We got 180mm of rain in February so that was a big plus,” he said.
ONGERUP farmer Matt Campbell recorded a timely 26 millimetres of rain on the family farming property in the past week to nudge falls close to the June average. Here, Matt is checking germinations of Planet barley sown into canola stubble on May 10. “We got 180mm of rain in February so that was a big plus,” he said.

MOTHER Nature tumbled her Lotto rainfall numbers out last week with only a few winners to report of, mainly across the Great Southern.

The northern grain region received scattered falls, with the the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) recording a top of 25 millimetres at Nabawa, 17mm at Three Springs, 8mm at Mullewa and 6mm at Yuna.

According to Ajana farmer Malcolm Ralph: “It’s looking like 2006.”

Mr Ralph had “only 3mm last week” on the family property.

“We’ve only had 9-10mm since the start of April and it hasn’t been enough to get the canola or wheat up,’’ he said.

“It’s pretty much the same story through the district though there are a couple of patches south east of us that look OK.

“Most people are moving stock, or buying in feed because there’s nothing on the ground.

“I’m hoping we get a decent rain to at least get the wheat up to provide some cover.”

The rains failed to make a solid dent inland with Perenjori recording 3mm, Wubin 4mm and Latham 0.6mm.

East Maya farmer Peter Waterhouse recorded 1.5mm in the gauge for last week.

He said gemination had been poor across the farm.

“It is the worst I have seen it,” he said.

“We’ve hardly got any crop out of the ground at all – maybe 15 per cent – and there’s not much rain coming.

“We’re hand feeding sheep and luckily I kept a fair bit of oats back last year, but they’ve got no feed either.”

For Kalannie farmer Clint Stanley, the only win he has was that his football team – Kalannie – toppled the top ranked Koorda on the weekend.

“At the house we had 3mm, nothing on one of our other properties and at Goodlands we had 1mm so it really doesn’t mean much,” he said.

Germination in the 4000 hectare cropping program is limited to an area the size of a football field, he said.

“I’m hoping if I do wash the gear something will brew up – cleaning my gear twice this season will be the least of my worries,’’ he said.

“Even if we did get some significant rain now all I would do is put some barley on 500-800ha on paddocks that might blow over the summer if they’re bare.”

Landmark Geraldton agronomist and Crop Circle Consulting director Grant Thompson said crop germination, emergence and rainfall had been a “mixed bag”, with some areas receiving 10mm of growing season rainfall up until last week’s front.

“A lot of damage has been done in the lupin and canola paddocks – a lot are going to be extremely thin and have very poor vigour in the plants that have emerged and some of them will barely make ground cover,” Mr Thompson said.

“I think this week will tell the tale of what emergence is still to come and what plant numbers we will achieve but there will be a lot of broadleaf crops that aren’t going to make a crop.

“There are a lot of wheat paddocks that managed to get a good start on very low amounts of rain and germinated and hung on until this rain and they will be okay; they won’t be high yielding but that have the potential to make a crop so far.”

Mr Thompson said the decision making process for those betting on a wetter spring and replanting has to be made now.

Groundcover was also critical due to winds now damaging exposed country.

“If growers know they won’t have enough plants to make a lupin crop, they could potentially replant to barley or wheat and try and make a crop that way but the big focus is on the lighter, more exposed, fragile soils to try and pick a moment when we can get some material back on these areas to get some ground cover.”

In the central and eastern Wheatbelt, Northam was the only real winner in the rain Lotto with 14mm in the gauge, Kellerberrin 8mm, Narembeen 6mm, while Merredin and Southern Cross received 2mm.

In the north eastern Wheatbelt, Bencubbin recorded 0.5mm and Bonnie Rock 1mm.

Eastern Wheatbelt farmer John Nicoletti said the situation was “desperate” for crop and livestock feed.

“The cold weather isn’t helping either and when we do get the rain there will only be slow growth,” he said.

“Our cereals are still hanging in but I’d put a question mark on the canola.

“But we’ve been here before and a decent rain is still a possibility so we’ll keep hoping we get it.”

The Great Southern faired better with 40mm at Kulin, Hyden 28mm, Lake Grace 23mm, Newdegate 12mm.

Wilgarra, north east of Wandering, received the highest amount in the State with 138mm.

Owen Hall, who is based between Kondinin and Narembeen and has farms in the Shire of Narembeen received 9.5mm at his home farm.

“Most of the crop is out of the ground but some isn’t,” he said.

“So far I haven’t had to (supplementary) feed my sheep and they are still hanging on without hand feeding.

“It’s not all over though and with a bit of luck, CBH will still receive a fairly respectable tonnage.”

In the southern coastal zone, Manypeaks received 44mm, Gairdner 42mm, Munglinup 28mm and Ravensthorpe and Esperance Aero with 15mm.

More rain is expected tomorrow and Saturday, with two fronts making their way across the South West land division.

BoM spokesman Ricus Lombard said a front on Friday afternoon from Jurien Bay across to Cunderdin and south to Esperance will bring falls of between 10-15mm in coastal areas and 2-5mm over inland parts of the grain belt.

A second front on Saturday will push showers further north to Dalwallinu and the central west and are likely to be between 2-5mm.

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READER COMMENTS

Vicki miguel
30/06/2017 9:01:30 AM, on Farm Weekly

We farm at Beacon we had no rain last time .Since the 1st of Jan.we have recorded 45 mm ,6mm since the 1st of April no crop at all out of the ground.

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Rusty...A shearing shed on a small place, might be used a week to five each year. 50 years down
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No varieties of barley left in WA suitable for Craft Beer production and little research. Craft
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We farm at Beacon we had no rain last time .Since the 1st of Jan.we have recorded 45 mm ,6mm