DUST BATH: John Roberts shows just how dry it is during a break in sowing yesterday afternoon, on “Greylands” north of Cowra. It may be dry but it is not yet desperate times for Cowra farmers with an anticipated change in the weather pattern next week providing hope this current low rainfall spell is breaking, according to local agronomist.
Less than 1mm of rain fell throughout Cowra in April – the third driest since 1906 – following on from below average rainfall in the first three months of the year but it is not all bad news for farmers.
Elders Cowra senior agronomist Peter Watt urged farmers to stick to their guns and not panic as there is an indication of reliable winter rainfall and an average spring.
“We are in the eastern part of the wheat belt in a reliable area,” Mr Watt said.
“I guess farmers have to rely on history and weather forecast modelling for some reassurance.
“It will be a tight winter because of the extended dry and potential late breaks for some stock water is also an issue as farm dams deplete.
“As usual, prudent managers have adjusted stock numbers and utilised store reserves of fodder and grain.”
Some early fodder drops sown on the March rain will provide very quick feed as soon as it rains but pasture growth will be slow due to cold temperatures, Mr Watt said.
“This will be much worse in areas of higher elevation such as the tablelands,” he said.
“At least being on the slopes we can still get growth during the winter months.
“Some of the growers might opt for quicker maturing varieties of wheat if available. Consider dry sowing as many already have and be prepared to act quickly on the opening rains.
“We’re fairly used to this, we’ve had this occur three to four times over the last 10 years with most farmers at least very comfortable to dry sow canola.
“Local farmers are lucky we’re here; spare a thought for those further west in lower rainfall zones who haven’t the luxury of our environment.”
A positive from this current dry spell has been that fallows have been cheap to maintain.
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