TRACTORS are back in motion across many parts of the State after much-needed rain fell last week, including for Dumbleyung farmer Jason Smith.
The recent dry conditions forced Mr Smith to stop seeding but he was back on the ground this week after receiving 5.5 millimetres over the weekend.
Over the past five months Mr Smith has received 73mm, with 33mm of that in January.
“The rain has been on a decreasing line, with 15mm in February, 13mm in March, 8mm in April and 5.5mm in May,” Mr Smith said.
“It’s meant to be increasing as we go into winter, so hopefully we see a change soon.”
With the average break falling around May 22, Mr Smith said the timing was pretty much on the money, although he had hoped for closer to 15mm.
“We have been spoilt the past three years with very high rainfall in summer,” he said.
Mr Smith is hopeful of a “normal” season with a later start.
“I remember once planting lupins on June 4 as my first crop of the season,” he said.
This year he started seeding on April 28, on the back of 8mm on April 23, seeing that as a good opportunity to get seed into the ground.
It’s been a dry argument since then.
“We have some tough clay and gravel country that was making hard work on the bar with the dry ground, so we pulled up,” Mr Smith said.
“Now we would need almost 50mm to connect up to the subsoil moisture.”
The wind also made a lot of mess on the weekend, with straw blowing onto the fences and top soil being picked up by the wind.
With a 3100-hectare program, Mr Smith has 1300ha of Scepter wheat and 400ha of Rosalind barley left to seed.
“Frost is a big one for us, so maybe putting this wheat in later will make it be better off,” he said.
Mr Smith has already planted 320ha of Gunyidi lupins, 900ha of Planet barley and 210ha of Bonito canola.
“Usually we wouldn’t grow canola,” he said.
“But we are trying to get on top of some weeds and this year we gave it a go.
“We aren’t sure if we are regretting growing it yet.”
Another reason Mr Smith has been hesitant to seed the whole program is the 4300 Merino ewes that have needed extra care to survive through the summer.
“We have been feeding them since December close to three times a week,” he said.
“I’m hopeful for the rest of the season, if we can receive median rainfall until October.”
Mr Smith’s full-time workers Cliff Jerome and Jesse Baker have been busy feeding and managing sheep, as well as trying to put a crop in.
His wife Melanie and their three children, Benjamin, 14, Thomas, 12 and Camille, 9, have been a big help this tough season and all show a big interest in the farm.