District sees fire and rain

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

When 15 to 20mm of rain fell on Tim Cusack's property last Monday, the Narembeen farmer filled up the boomspray ready to get straight onto weeds.

But when another 85 to 100mm was dumped on crops the following day Tim conceded they wouldn't be spraying for a while.

Instead, he spent last Wednesday towing cars through flooded roads and helping clean out a header box with wet grain in it.

"We'll have to wait for the volunteer cereals and canola and everything else to come up now," he said about their spraying program.

"We've already got a lot of melons and caltrop with 80mm (from earlier falls)."

The fourth-generation farmer, who farms with his wife Holly and parents Brian and Joan, said they have received at least 180mm of rain since it stopped being useful to their crops and that was topped up by another 2 to 4mm overnight Monday.

"We've got about 300 hectares of barley to go," Tim said.

"We were very lucky with the barley - it was probably 50 to 60 per cent malt and that's not because of colour or protein but mostly screenings because of the dry finish."

By this Monday, the Cusacks were able to start on their 1700ha wheat crop, but grain quality has suffered.

"The quality has gone down now and it won't make APW," Tim said.

"Maybe Feed or GP is the best we can hope for."

The family had only managed to take off 70ha before rain early this week held the header up once again.

It's been an eventful harvest for the area's farmers.

First there was rain through October and November, then hail, fire from lightening strikes and finally flood, with bogged headers peppering the countryside.

"We had three fires in half an hour around Narembeen on Monday," Tim said.

"Two were put out by rain and another was put out fairly quickly."

Hail at the end of spring caused an 80 per cent loss across 10 per cent of the program and the quality of their wheat crop has taken a hit from the rain, but the young farmer is quick to point out it's not all bad.

He said, the town's ski lake was full for the first time in years and more importantly, the Cusack family have already delivered more grain this year than they did for the entire 2010 harvest.

"It's a lot more crop than we put in the bin last year and we've still got all this to go regardless of whether it's downgraded to feed," he said.

"We've probably tripled our yield in the canola and got five times the yield we had last year in the barley.

"It would have been nice to get the full benefit of what we've done all year, but we're having an OK year."

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