"A GOOD rainfall event like this gives us an opportunity to get some weeds up for a good knockdown and is also beneficial for our sheep."
That was the view of Corrigin cropping and sheep farmer Steven Bolt after he recorded 36-48 millimetres across his farm by last Thursday morning.
This was boosted by a further 27mm later that day.
Mr Bolt said it was the best opening start he could remember witnessing in a "very long time."
"Without going back through records, I did hear a comment from one of the Corrigin locals, who said this was the biggest single 24-hour rainfall event in May since the 1960s.
"For the past 20-odd years we have been putting the crop in on 5mm and 9mm rainfall events in May, so a good one like this is huge.
"For us where sheep are a big part of the business, it will allow us to get sheep feed away early with lambing just about complete."
Mr Bolt manages a 50:50 sheep and cropping operation with about 1600 hectares of Frano seradella, lupins, oats, barley and wheat.
Barley is the main part of his cropping program because it benefits sheep with the quality of post-harvest stubble.
As of last week, Mr Bolt was about a third of the way through the program with a "fair percentage" set to be sown over the next week.
"We had some rain back in early April, so by mid-April we had already put in quite a bit of Planet barley, which is already in and up," he said.
"Lupins and oats, as well as some Margurita serradella have already been sown.
"I think my aim will be by May 20 it will be sort of near completion."
Meanwhile, lambing was underway at the start of April, so the past six weeks for Mr Bolt have consisted of solid daily feeding.
"Within the next two weeks I think we will be able to start backing off the amount of feed we are giving the sheep," he said.
"The benefits of the rainfall for the sheep are that they carry a lot better condition into winter, so it is really positive for the whole agricultural area of WA.
Mr Bolt said another 5mm to 10mm of rainfall in the next 10 days would be ideal to help bring the crop through.
"You can't beat that early start," he said.
"And because the ground is still warm you get good growth out of all of the feed at the moment, so it just sets up the whole season.
"We are able to go in and do pasture manipulation earlier."
In terms of average rainfall, Mr Bolt said they were well above that for the season to date.
He said last year there were some early rains in March, but when it came time to put the crop in they couldn't get a decent double figure rainfall event to get started with.
"It is hard not to be optimistic about the season in front of us now," Mr Bolt said.
"There were some areas right in that northern Wheatbelt that didn't get this much rainfall, but as a general most areas have had a really substantial rainfall event, which is great to see.
"I think, especially for the WA sheep industry, this is a real critical season.
"So the general nature of this rain, most of the State has had really good falls and it has put water in a lot of dams, especially in a lot of that eastern country.
"It will certainly provide some optimism for everyone, a good early start for cropping and for sheep feed, water in dams.
"I think we are going into the season in really good shape."
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