Bureau of Meteorology figures high rainfall figures in the Esperance region

By Shannon Beattie
April 19 2022 - 9:50pm
Much to the delight of his son, Lucas, between 140 and 160mm of rain fell over 48 hours at Matthew Bell's farm at Munglinup last week.

ACCORDING to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), 129 millimetres at Ravensthorpe was the highest recorded rainfall last week, however reports from individual farmers put the tally much higher and in some cases, closer to figures from the Esperance region floods back in 2017.

At Munglinup, Matthew Bell copped between 140 and 160mm across the farm over a 48-hour period.

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While the floods in 2007 and 2017 were more extreme, last week's rainfall came pretty close to those levels.

Before the rain, he was on the drier side and was still getting organised to start seeding, having only put in about 50 hectares of clover beforehand.

Now, conditions are near perfect to fire up the seeding rig and really get the ball rolling.

"Remarkably, a lot of the profile isn't actually full because the rainfall came so fast that a lot of it ran away," Mr Bell said.

"That's left us in a really good position as the profile is wet enough to seed comfortably but not so full that we're waterlogged already and need to worry about bogging."

With so much rain in such a short time frame, some issues did arise with new drainage work blowing out and some deep ripped country getting washed.

However overall, that was a small price to pay to be in an ideal seeding position.

At Grass Patch, John Sanderson's seeder was stuck in a paddock for five days after 55mm of rain fell.

Mr Bell finished the last of the pasture on Monday and shifted onto canola that evening, with the program to now run continuously until it is finished.

As is always the case with these sort of rain events, the severity of the falls was patchy and random,

At Beaumont West, BoM recorded 92mm in the seven days until Monday morning.

Meanwhile Lyndon Mickel, who farms north east of Beaumont, said he recorded about 55mm.

While that was nowhere near what some areas received, particularly those near the coast, for him it was ideal.

"We've got a good germination going now which allows us to get a great double knockdown in place and we'll start seeding just after Anzac Day," Mr Mickel said.

"Last year was the first in about four that we had been able to seed into moisture, so being able to get the whole program, all 5500ha of it, in on moisture again this year is very pleasing.

"When you get a good start you're already halfway there and while we've still got the remainder of the year to go, we're certainly off to another very good start."

At Cascade, rainfall for Jason Vermeersch ranged from 63mm to 95mm over three days.

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It was nothing compared to the 180mm in 48 hours that he received in 2017, but timing wise it was ideal and sets him up to finish seeding in really good conditions.

"It came at a great time as we'd finished the canola and it was probably a bit earlier for anything else to go in, so it held us up for a day or two with some forced rest, but we probably would have made that decision regardless," Mr Vermeersch said.

"We'd had a pretty dry summer, so this will really fill the profile and it gives us a lot of confidence going into the season"

Mr Vermeersch had finished seeding all of his canola and faba beans before last week's rain and the majority of it had already germinated.

"We were waiting for some of it to come out of the ground still and it did get a bit too wet in some low-lying areas, so we might end up having to do a little bit of re-seeding but we won't know for sure until the end of the week," he said.

"Regardless, having to re-seed a couple of small patches is not a big deal as the benefits from the falls far outweigh the negatives."

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Mr Vermeersch initially tried to start seeding again on Saturday, but had a little more rain on Sunday and at the moment, it doesn't take much to make it too wet.

He pulled-up again on Sunday afternoon and finally got back into the swing of things on Monday morning.

Having already received a bit of rain in February and March, John Sanderson at Grass Patch was already sitting pretty before last week's rain.

He had started seeding about April 5 after receiving 13mm of rain at the beginning of the month.

"We were toying with the idea of starting with barley or canola and when we got that rain at the start of April, we decided to pull the trigger on canola given the prices and the fact that we had a couple of paddocks to clean-up," Mr Sanderson said.

Having pushed hard from the beginning, he had about three quarters of his canola in before 35-55mm fell at the beginning of last week.

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"Within 100 kilometres of us people were getting over 150mm and for us, that would have done a fair bit of damage to the canola we did put in," he said.

"For us to get what we did was just the right amount and because it's so warm still, the canola is already jumping out of the ground."

As always, rain does cause a few dramas and Mr Sanderson's seeder ended up stuck in a paddock for five days as the area of the farm it was parked copped the upper end of rainfall tally.

Initially he thought he would pull up for a night last Monday and get going again the next day, but the rain kept coming and he wasn't able to get moving again until Saturday.

"It was a bit sloppy and I got bogged once, so I probably should have left it a little bit longer, but we needed to finish off the canola so we could move onto beans," Mr Sanderson said.

"By Sunday we moved onto paddocks on sandier country and we were rolling along fine, but at that stage there were still a few paddocks which would have been too wet to go on."

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