Summer rain raises hopes at Avalon

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Binnu farmer Evan Reynolds is capitalising on the highest summer rainfall he’s had in all his years of farming.

Avalon farms comprise 4500 hectares of Murray and Del Criddle’s land — which Evan manages with Barry Marshall — and Evans’s 1000ha property.

Across the four properties, there is a planned cropping program of 5500ha.

The farms received 300mm of rain from December to March, which prompted Evan to sell sheep to put more land into cropping.

Evan sold the farms’ flock of 1200 Merino ewes earlier this year.

“We’ve destocked because the summer rain flattened our feed, so we increased our cropping,” he said.

This growing season, Evan planted canola for the first time in three years and increased the wheat program. He started dry sowing canola on April 27 and followed with lupins a few days later.

Evan said moisture was stored between 100 to 150mm deep, depending on the soil type.

“We are dry seeding everything but it won’t take long to link up,” he said.

“If we get about half an inch of rain, the moisture profile should join up.”

Evan said the farm — about 30km east of Binnu — was two-thirds deep yellow sand and one-third heavy country. He said the subsoil moisture gave him a good opportunity get a knockdown on weeds.

“We are set up well this year, with a good moisture profile and clean paddocks,” he said. “All we need is average rainfall for the growing season.”

Last year, Evan recorded 175mm of growing season rainfall — about half the amount of summer rain the property has received this year.

“We had about 3000 sheep before 2006, but we halved those during the droughts,” he said.

“We’ll concentrate on cropping now.”

Evan plans to continue dry sowing crops steadily until the property receives season breaking rains.

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