THE news may still be grim in terms of weather patterns, with a drier than average late spring and early summer still very much on the cards, but farmers across the nation have had a welcome respite to the dry through early October.
A soaking rain across the Wimmera and Mallee has come too late for some croppers but will add hundreds of millions of dollars of income to others, along with promoting a late spring flush of pasture for graziers in the Western District.
The band of rain through western Victoria earlier this week delivered falls of 10-30mm through the Wimmera and will consolidate the area’s yield potential following a parched September with virtually no rain.
While too late for the north of the region it will lock in close to average yields for some in the south and the west.
Peter Hicks, of Kaniva, is one of the lucky ones.
“We had 25mm all up and it is just fantastic – we’re in the Garden of Eden here,” he said.
“The crop is still very much receptive to rain, it had been getting quite dry and some crops, such as the durum wheat, were starting to fall over but it will all respond.”
He said all crops in his area would be harvested, in contrast to much of the rest of Victoria where significant tracts of crop land have been cut for hay due to a combination of dry conditions and frost.
For the McGennisken family, who farm various blocks south of Horsham, the rain will be of mixed benefit.
Sam McGennisken said the heavy black ground near Horsham had already suffered from dry and frost and that areas had already been cut for hay.
He said there had been 18mm at the family’s Bungalally block, which he said did not think would damage the hay on the ground, but said it may be too late to add extra yield to remaining crops. Brother Leigh said, however, on other blocks further to the south at Wonwondah the rain would dramatically boost crop prospects.
Farmers with green cereal crops were working on increased yields in the vicinity of 20-30 kilograms a hectare per millimetre of rain, subtracting the first 3mm, meaning a 25mm rain could deliver around 0.5 tonnes to the hectare more grain.
With wheat values at close to $500 a tonne it could mean an extra $250/ha in gross income.