Rain brings many relief

Lauren Celenza, Claire Tyrrell and Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Farmers across WA were overjoyed with the sound of rain on their roofs on Sunday night.

Falls of up to 78mm were recorded in the northern agricultural region, leaving farmers in a comfortable position for the season ahead.

Geraldton agronomist Peter Norris said things were looking bright for farmers in the region.

“It’s looking fantastic, ” he said. “This is the best start to the season we’ve had since 2008.”

Northampton farmer Wes Teakle recorded 78mm of rain on Sunday night.

“Everything has come out of the ground very quickly and the sheep feed is bolting,” he said.

“It is a comfortable position to be in.”

Walkaway farmer Hugh Levett’s property received 67mm of rain overnight on Sunday.

“It’s about as good as it gets,” he said.

Planfarm grain marketing adviser Peter Scott said the weekend’s rainfall had been great for many of the State’s farmers, but a top-up would be needed soon.

“The guys down in the south-east didn’t receive a lot but it is useful and it certainly keeps their crops growing, ” he said.

“Farmers in the central and eastern Wheatbelt will need a top-up within a few weeks, whereas the guys up north could probably stand a whole month of dry weather.”

Lake Grace Farmanco consultant Mae Connelly said the rain was welcome but a lot more was needed.

“Most people only got about 5mm to 6mm, which is just enough to keep everything ticking along,” she said.

“But it’s not the two inches that we wanted.

“There has been more rain south towards Pingrup but less around Pingaring.

“Some areas from Pingaring and across to Lake Grace have missed out again.

“There has been a big move out of canola, but there won’t be many paddocks left out of programs all together.”

Meanwhile, at Salmon Gums, north of Esperance, there’s been little relief.

Although 18mm of rain nearly two weeks ago was enough to start Andrew Longmire’s seeding program, the Salmon Gums farmer said there had been no rain in the past week.

He said the property had received just 64mm for the year and water carting, which had been almost constant since last spring for many of the region’s growers, was ongoing.

“Seeding is soil-type dependent at the moment,” he said.

“The sandier stuff isn’t too bad and direct drilling is going OK but there has been no runoff for dam water.”

Andrew said the local contractor was “flat out” carting water from the Salmon Gums quarry, but farmers were concerned prolonged dry weather could see the quarry dry up.

“Farmers are doing about two or three loads on average a week,” Andrew said.

“Everyone needs water for spraying, but luckily there’s not too much spraying happening.

“We’d like to see 50mm of rain straightaway.”

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