By RACHEL CLARKE
A WET start to the year continued in some areas on the weekend with significant falls on the back of strong rain the previous week.
Great Northern farmers are embracing the subsoil moisture with Landmark Northampton agronomist Leigh Nairn saying the area would take what it could get this time of the year.
“Those who don’t want the rain for stock but need it for their cropping just have to take the good with the bad,” Mr Nairn said.
Last week the Great Northern area received rainfall between 30-166mm when ex-tropical cyclone Joyce dumped rain across most parts of WA.
Mr Nairn said summer weeds needed to be controlled as early as possible so they didn’t take up any moisture, especially in the north where growing seasons could be dry.
“Melons, roly poly, tarvine and button grass are the major weeds we see up here over summer and we had some of those come up with the harvest rains that fell in December,” he said.
On Saturday storms fronted Mullewa with 4mm recorded by Justine Rowe.
Although there was little rainfall, the storm carried a great lightning show.
“We had 40mm last Monday and that was lovely and steady so it didn’t do any damage,’’ Ms Rowe said.
“It will be nice to have some subsoil moisture.”
She said they were already deep ripping and would start spraying the summer weeds soon.
Landmark fertiliser and farm services manager Matt Applebee said previous seasons showed growers the advantage of early weed control, especially for moisture conservation.
“It seems to be that we have a dry spell in April, May and June and there are often many paddocks that show up where early weed control has allowed crops to get away with the sub-soil moisture, compared to those who were a little later in controlling weeds,” Mr Applebee said.
He said most growers had experienced the moisture loss from summer weeds and he was sure they would jump on the opportunity over the next coming weeks to control those weeds.
Paddy melons and afghan melons are the predominant summer weeds that grow in most cropping areas across the State.
Landmark Narrogin agronomist Faan Carlse said a lot of people were going out now to get on top of the melons after the latest rain.
With Wandering receiving 90mm and Williams 60mm, the moisture will produce summer weeds.
“There will be a lot of volunteer cereals coming up now, which will be handy for those people with sheep,” Mr Carlse said.
Last year the Great Southern had more rain than was expected from the February floods, with some areas receiving more than 200mm.
With summer rain events becoming more common, farmers in the area are no longer relying on straw to feed their sheep.
“The quality has gone down, all the straw has been rained out,’’ Mr Carlse said.
“Although most guys know from now on there will be more rain events, so they no longer rely on that nutritional value.”
The rain was bad news for some businesses as Corrigin company Milden hay stopped baling after the rains.
“We made just shy of 1000 bales and it would have been a lot more if it hadn’t rained,” said Milden hay owner Corey Weguelin.
Mr Weguelin, who usually holidays over January, said they wouldnt do straw again until next year because the quality was gone.
“Because it’s all header wind rows that we bale this time of year, if the wind row gets wet then it will be wiped out,” he said.
“If we only had 5mm we would have been OK, but with 49mm we won’t touch anything now.”
Any outside stacks would have also been damaged by the rain with about 25 per cent of the stack, mainly the top and sides, being water damaged he said.
Mr Weguelin will start spraying on the farm where he works full time, as the summer weeds need to be sprayed out.
HOLIDAYS are over for Kondinin’s Beau Repacholi as he gets to work after 50 millimetres of rain fell last week.
Already using his bar to rip up patches of dirt, Mr Repacholi will also start spraying this week to beat some of the weeds that have started to grow.
“We had 15mm in the first rain, which would have been a waste, but the 50mm total at least puts some moisture into the ground,” Mr Repacholi said.
The farm runs 2100 sheep over a few thousand hectares, which will be fed only by feeders and trail feed as the stubble feed disappears.
Some sheep will go to the neighbour’s farm for agistment which is normal for this time of year.
With 3000ha of cropping, they keep their lupins for sheep feed for the summer months.
Mr Repacholi has started ripping up a few hundred hectares in case the season replicates last year.
“We are ripping because of the moisture, it gives you some room up your sleeve in case it’s another dry start to the season,” he said.
The Kondinin property covers the end of a water catchment which has proven difficult over the years as the water table changes.
“We have planted lots of trees to control the salinity through the farm, with rains like this bringing up the water table,’’ he said.
“We also had 12 kilometres of drains dug to help lower the water table and take out the salt, with some of the land coming back to good production.”
Mr Repacholi will start spraying melons which he said the sheep would clean up after spraying.