Cropping

Late winter rain a blessing

by
August 29, 2017

Despite a dry start to winter, the rains finally arrived and have left croppers feeling positive about the upcoming harvest.

Just 1.2mm was recorded in Echuca in June, but falls of 44.5mm in July and a further 71.5mm in the first 24 days of August have made up for the dry start.

Landmark Elmore agronomist Greg Toomey said the August rain ‘‘turned around’’ the season from being merely okay to producing some good results.

‘‘We’ve had a bit of everything, with an extraordinarily wet April which gave way to a bit drier than average May which gave croppers a chance to get their crop in and then we had the driest June on record,’’ Mr Toomey said.

‘‘There was some concern about how the season was going, but crops have survived the June quite well.’’

Mr Toomey said as long as events such as hail, heatwaves and frost were avoided in coming months, he expected the season to deliver some good results.

For Peter Tuohey — who grows canola, wheat and barley on his farm 35km west of Echuca — the rain has come at the right time.

‘‘We had good early rain which meant we got our crop in in good time and we had good moisture,’’ Mr Tuohey said.

‘‘It’s as good a start if not better than last year.’’

Despite frost keeping the ground cold, Mr Tuohey said his canola was now advancing well having started flowering a couple of weeks ago.

‘‘If the frost continues we’ll be a bit concerned, it’s all a bit uncertain at this point so we’ll see.’’

Elsewhere across the region Benalla has made up for a completely dry June, ending up with 150.4mm across winter, with 83.3mm falling in the first 24 days of August.

Devenish farmer Hamish Sinclair — who grows wheat, barley, canola and faba beans — said it had been a ‘‘great’’ winter.

‘‘(The crops) look good today, they look as good as they can up to date,’’ Mr Sinclair said.

‘‘There’s lots of contrast between this year and last.

‘‘The dry June was great for us, we had a lot of issues last year with waterlogging and getting jobs done in the paddock, so it’s been a great winter for us, ideal really.’’

The remainder of the region experienced similar results, with Shepparton and Kyabram also receiving more than 100mm throughout winter, although Deniliquin was drier than most of the region, receiving just 84.8mm, and Kerang only 74.2mm.

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