CYCLONE Olwyn is hated in Carnarvon but the rain-bearing depression that followed the fury has further enhanced prospects of a good season for most WA grain growers.
The area in need is the South Coast east of Munglinup, where scant rain since last harvest has tightened water supplies, triggering a flurry of water carting for livestock.
For the remainder of the Wheatbelt, however, last weekend’s rain came on the back of good thunderstorm activity earlier in the month.
Last Friday the cyclone destroyed the Carnarvon banana industry and horticultural crops and severely damaged the town.
Its aftermath swept throughout the Wheatbelt in two sessions – on early Saturday morning widespread but patchy rain up to 87mm was dumped on most districts with a repeat on Sunday morning.
Central West farmers were the main beneficiaries from the Saturday rain while Central Wheatbelt and Great Southern districts recorded good falls between 10 and 25mm on Sunday morning.
Farmers in Ajana, Binnu, Balla and Ogilvie breathed a sigh of relief after missing out on the earlier thunderstorms with most recording between 20mm and 80mm.
Ajana farmer Kyle Carson said rain started on the property on the Friday night and continued through until the morning.
“It was steady rain with no run-off,” he said.
“We recorded between 60mm and 75mm on the Ajana property and on dad’s property at west Binnu he recorded between 70-87mm.
“It was our first decent rain since last harvest and has filled the profile so we’re very happy.
“We should get a good germination which effectively will be our knockdown and we can keep on top of the weeds before seeding starts.”
East Yuna farmer Perry St Quintin said his rain gauge showed 81mm from rain that fell between midnight and 4am Saturday.
“We’ve recorded 280mm from the end of November and last weekend’s event comes after very handy falls from thunderstorms earlier this month,” he said.
“It created a lot of lakes in paddocks because the heavy ground was wet but we’re hoping seeding will be on schedule just before Anzac Day.
“Another rain might change our plans but regardless it is a big confidence lifter.
“Last year was okay but 2013 was our worst year on record so hopefully this year can deliver.”
Mullewa farmer Rodney Messina, added another 45-65mm to the farm’s total for the year which now stands at 150mm.
“It was magnificent soaking rain and while the wind caused some minor damage to a shed, we’re on track to start canola on April 13 a week ahead of schedule,” he said.
“The deep rippers are now in action and we’re busy with spraying but the confidence is up.”
Eradu farmer Peter Barnetson recorded 62mm on the Saturday morning to follow 43mm from thunderstorms.
“We’ve had nearly 125mm for the month,” he said.
“We haven’t had those sort of figures at this time of the year for at least three years.
“Deep rippers throughout the district, which have been idle for two years are back in action and we’re also maintaining our spraying so activity around here is flat out.
“We should get a good knockdown now so all we want is a dial-up break to the season.”
The 32mm recorded on Morawa farmer Lindsay Chappel’s property took his monthly total to 105mm and put the brakes on seeding plans.
“Normally we start dry seeding on April 15 but with all this moisture we don’t want crops coming up until late April or early May,” he said.
“We’ve kept the spraying programs going and we’ll assess our seeding plans as we go.”
Mr Chappel said the rain was gentle and soaking with no run-off which will be of benefit to crops later in the season as the moisture travels into the deeper soil profile.
Carnamah farmer Bob Dempster, who hit the news earlier this month, recording 232mm on his property in a two hour period from thunderstorm activity, added 19mm to his rain chart last Saturday.
“It was windy weather to start then heavy rain,” he said.
“We’re now into deep ripping and watching where we spray because the ground has got soft.
“At this stage with the moisture we’ve got, you’ve got to be confident and what we want now is a good knockdown and for wheat prices to spike up.”
Most central Wheatbelt districts were beneficiaries of double digit rain between 10mm and 25mm and Yilgarn farmer Romolo Patroni said the rain provided good follow-up from earlier thunderstorms.
“It was very gentle with no wind and just soaking rain,” he said.
“We got 9-15mm and there’s green pick now for the sheep.
“We’ve sprayed after the last rain and we’re now at a stage we’re it’s too late to spray for summer weeds and too early to spray for winter weeds.
“We’ll just wait and see how the next few weeks unfolds before we start seeding plans.”
The patchy rain was evident on Bruce Browning’s family farm at Kondinin.
“We got 9mm and we’ve got green pick for the sheep,” he said.
“Most of our spraying has been done as we’re down to cut-out programs now while we wait for the break.
“We still plan to go in dry starting with pasture in mid-April followed by canola and all you can do is hope we get the rain at the right time.”
Further south at Dudinin, Simon Duckworth was upbeat after 25mm of soaking rain filled rain gauges.
“It was our first decent rain event since last October,” he said.
“We got 7mm out of the thunderstorms but we’ve been feeding-out and carting water since half way through January.
“This is very timely rain that will promote green pick and put some levels into the dams.
“It was variable because on my dad’s farm a few kilometres north, he recorded 60mm.
“If we can get some follow-up rain soon to get a good knockdown we’ll be off to a good start with our cropping program.”
Frustrated east Munglinup farmers saw 9-15mm recorded in the town and in western boundaries on the Sunday quickly peter out to trace falls on their farms where conditions remain very dry.
They have endured a prolonged dry period since the November and December harvest rains.
Even Salmon Gums farmer Rory Graham was left scratching his head after Cyclone Olwyn-turned depression expired its last breath over the district delivering a trace of rain to the town and nothing on surrounding farms.
“We missed the thunderstorms earlier this month too so I don’t know what we’ve done,” he joked.
“The last rains we had were at harvest and thankfully it was enough to fill most of the dams so water isn’t an issue for us and stock feed is still okay.
“Most guys have done two or three spray programs to keep on top of weeds and melons so paddocks are mostly clean and we’re all ready for the opening break.”