Grey clouds bring sunny outlook

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

West Ballidu farmer Tim Latham admits that sitting on the tractor, sowing wheat and watching the rain clouds roll in isn't a bad way to spend a working day.

It's a stark contrast from his first crack at seeding this season, which was done off just 16mm in early May - until now the family's only rainfall event for the growing season.

Back then Tim, who farms with his wife Denise, brother Peter and sister-in-law Michelle, said they pulled up a quarter of the way through their 4200 hectare wheat program because it was simply too dry.

"Even seeding into that 16mm wasn't ideal - it was half wet and half dry," Tim said. "We pulled up about three weeks ago.

"Patches of the wheat germinated - about 30 per cent - but the heavier soils didn't germinate."

About 90 per cent of the family's canola program germinated, which is half GM and half Triazine Tolerant, but Tim said they were starting to get desperate for rain.

"The canola was up to the two to four-leaf stage but it was really starting to struggle," he said.

"We probably had only two or three days before some of it would have started to die."

With rain predicted to arrive late last week, Tim jumped back on the seeder on Tuesday to finish the rest of the family's wheat program and by early Thursday the heavens had opened.

Since then the Lathams have picked up 45mm, and with more rain on its way it's done wonders for Tim's confidence for the rest of the season.

"Before then we were thinking about cutting out the odd paddock and we'd already dropped the fertiliser back a bit," he said.

"Now we've got moisture up our sleeves and if it didn't rain again for a couple of weeks it would be OK."

The rain is also good news for the Lathams' 3200 Merino ewes currently lambing.

"We've been flat out feeding but the green pick is already coming through," Tim said.

"The pasture that had germinated earlier had all pretty much died - so this green feed will certainly help."

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