Different fronts deliver mixed outcomes

Different fronts deliver mixed outcomes


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A double rainbow took to the sky after 42mm of rain fell at Cranbrook. Melinda Walsh said she was so happy to see puddles in her farm yard.

A double rainbow took to the sky after 42mm of rain fell at Cranbrook. Melinda Walsh said she was so happy to see puddles in her farm yard.

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A PERSISTENT trough blanketed parts of the central eastern Wheatbelt, Great Southern and Southern Coastal areas last week, delivering mixed outcomes for those areas.

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A PERSISTENT trough blanketed parts of the central eastern Wheatbelt, Great Southern and Southern Coastal areas last week, delivering mixed outcomes for those areas.

The trough, which lasted three to four days, saw thunderstorm activity, gusty winds and heavy rainfall across the lower parts of the State.

Some areas recorded rainfall between 20-80 millimetres for the week which saw flood damage to farms.

North Bodallin farmer Johny Seeder said he watched the storm roll in while out ploughing.

"I was watching the storm and it was quite small and I thought we would get a little rain and it would go around us," Mr Seeder said.

"But then the lightning started and about two and a half inches (65mm) fell down in 30 minutes."

Mr Seeder said the storm went through then turned around and hit them again, damaging fences and driveways, washing out roads and flattening paddocks.

He estimates about 6000 hectares of his farm was hit by the storm and small water washes have become creeks and drains in the paddock.

Mr Seeder also had to move sheep into different paddocks with some fences gone.

"The way the water ran was what made the most damage," he said.

"It fell too fast to soak into the ground and just took most of the ground with it as it washed away.

"I'm out here now in a speed tiller trying to flatten paddocks out."

Mr Seeder said he wished that half the amount of rain they received had fallen over a longer time.

His 2019 seeding plans haven't changed yet and he has accepted the idea he will have to drive his tractor around wash aways.

"We will still seed our paddocks and try to bring the dirt back into the drains," he said.

"But for now we don't need anymore rain."

Mr Seeder said another 20mm in a few weeks would be ideal but he was already driving around lakes and wet spots.

Mount Barker farmer Nathan Crosby also received some heavy rainfall totals from the trough last week.

Mr Crosby, who farms with his father-in-law Mark Adams and brother-in-law Stephen Adams, said they had received two rainfall events in the past fortnight, recieving 20mm last week and 30mm the previous week.

"We had 50mm in total at the home block but I assume there would have been more on our eastern blocks from what I have heard," Mr Crosby said.

"It was a great soaking rain last week because the ground was already wet and it was a steady fall, unlike some areas, like Kojonup, where the rain fell quite hard and has done some paddock damage."

Mr Crosby said the rain was a beautiful start to the season and it's enough to get them excited for seeding.

"This weather might make us inclined to start seeding a little earlier but we will have watch the long weather forecast to see if April will provide some weather," he said.

"If it doesn't look like raining again for a while then we will hold back seeding a little longer."

To preserve moisture from last week's rain, Mr Crosby said they were on the boomsprayer, tackling volunteer barley and canola.

Mr Crosby said they needed to get a good knockdown on those weeds and volunteer grains to help if a dry April came along.

"The weather is still pretty warm so it's likely barley and canola will shoot back up and the moisture will disappear quickly," he said.

Cranbrook farmer Melinda Walsh recorded 42mm over three days.

She said there were lightning storms in surroundings areas but didn't see too much damage on her farm.

"We have spent the past few days drafting sheep because a few gates and fences didn't shape up too well in the storm," Ms Walsh said.

"We had sheep in with neighbours and they just seemed to wonder around, but I think we have them all back now."

But Ms Walsh wasn't complaining, saying it was an excellent start when compared to the two previous years.

She said it was one of the best starts to the season they had seen in a while and hoped it would continue.

"Last year we missed out on a lot of that starting rain," she said.

"We watched it hit towns close to us but it never seemed to make it here.

"For the month of March this year we have had 73.5mm but last year we had 15mm for the entire month."

Ms Walsh said the past two years hadn't been great for them and they struggled with the dry weather.

But this year the pastures are looking good and their sheep are doing remarkably well.

"Our sheep were looking spectacular," she said.

"We come through the dry season well and we bought lupins early to keep their nutrition up.

"We had utilised the stubbles pretty well already so the rain didn't ruin that food source."

Ms Walsh said they had a lot of salt bush and perennials which have helped over the dryer months.

But she also said they needed the rain to be consistent now for the cropping program so they don't have a false start.

To preserve the moisture they will also start spraying weeds, ready to start seeding in May.

Unfortunately for some growers there isn't any rain forecast to come from Cyclone Veronica for the Central Wheatbelt, South West or Great Southern for the next week.

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