Rains a season-saver close to Esperance

Dorothy HendersonCountryman
A rain gauge full of water brought smiles to the faces of Scaddan farmer Rhonda Morcombe and granddaughter Pippa Morcombe (nine months).
Camera IconA rain gauge full of water brought smiles to the faces of Scaddan farmer Rhonda Morcombe and granddaughter Pippa Morcombe (nine months). Credit: Dorothy Henderson

A series of run-off producing rainfall events have turned the season around for some near Esperance, replacing frowns with grins and glints of optimism.

While the downpours that filled the gauges of some growers bypassed those in need in places like Salmon Gums, closer to the coast smiles are starting to show amongst those whose dams have filled in the wake of rains during the past month.

The Morcombe family at Scaddan are among the lucky ones, with last week’s rains making the effort put into this year’s crops seem worthwhile and giving them confidence to go ahead with the application of nitrogen and other inputs.

Nearly 88mm of the 275mm recorded on the family's farms has fallen in August, making the month an important one.

Rhonda Morcombe has leased her farming properties to her son, Shorty, and his partner Joelly and the duo have about 2700ha of crop literally bursting with potential after this month’s rains.

A rain gauge full of water was enough to turn a mediocre season into one with potential and bring smiles to the faces of Scaddan farmer Rhonda Morcombe and granddaughter Pippa Morcombe (nine months).
Camera IconA rain gauge full of water was enough to turn a mediocre season into one with potential and bring smiles to the faces of Scaddan farmer Rhonda Morcombe and granddaughter Pippa Morcombe (nine months). Credit: Dorothy Henderson

With canola flowering and faba beans towering, it is easy to visualise the excitement building towards harvest but a week ago things were not so bright.

Rhonda said August’s rains had “saved the day” — a sentiment echoed by Joelly.

Shorty said the rains had improved prospects for the harvest, giving it the potential to be anywhere from average to above-average.

Earlier this month, prospects were at the other end of the scale — anywhere from below-average to average.

The Morcombe planted Sceptre and Nighthawk wheat (1450ha), 4510 and Bonito canola, (350ha), Samira beans (400ha) and Latrobe barley (400ha) .

The varieties planted had been chosen because they suited the shorter growing season, with the Nighthawk wheat planted to provide high yields even in areas where waterlogging could be an issue.

The family have high hopes for the coming harvest but their own joy is tempered by the wish the rainfall could be more widely shared.

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