Rain relief in south

Corrina RidgwayThe West Australian
Graham Styles was delighted with the welcome rain.
Camera IconGraham Styles was delighted with the welcome rain. Credit: The West Australian

Widespread, albeit patchy, showers from the weekend's cold front have brought some relief to growers on the South Coast.

Recordings of 6mm to 30mm of rain spanned from Ravensthorpe to Beaumont, and areas from Esperance and west to Munglinup and Cascades received the most rain.

Rain petered out to the north and east, although 9mm was still reason to celebrate in Beaumont. Salmon Gums recorded just 6mm.

The sporadic nature of the front resulted in rain gauges varying from 6mm to 14mm between neighbours in areas north of Condingup.

It has still been a welcome drink after one of the driest Augusts that many producers have experienced in the region.

Crops and pasture growth have been affected by the late break, with only light to moderate falls recorded this growing season.

Rainfall for the year to date is still well below average for the entire South Coast, sitting at between 60 per cent to 72 per cent of the average.

Condingup farmer Graham Styles, who farms with son Daniel, recorded 9mm in the rain gauge over the weekend, taking the family's total tally for August to 18mm.

The family runs 500 cows and 1600 sheep over 1928ha, cropping 500ha this year - mostly canola and barley.

Graham said the rain was timely, if not a bit too late.

"It would have been nice to get it a bit earlier," he said.

"All year it's been too little and too far apart."

Graham said stock feed had been affected the most in the dry conditions.

"We need a lot more rain for the pasture, especially after the two or three false breaks at the start of the season," he said.

"There's nothing there. Because of the late start, it's all cape weed and corkscrew - there are no medics or false clovers. If it hadn't have rained, I would have been on the blower Saturday morning selling off cattle."

A recent bout of warm weather caused some stress late in the month, as the region was dealt three days of temperatures in the high 20s.

"We had three days of around 29 degrees and a hot northerly to go with it," Graham said.

The heat caused some flower drop in the canola, however, crops held on surprisingly well.

Boron toxicity has also caused headaches, according to Daniel. "We are having boron problems in the Hindmarsh barley where it's been freshly clay spread," he said.

However, Daniel said he was happy with how the crops had performed. "I'd expect about 3.5t/ha on the barley and 1.5t/ha on canola," he said.

Conditions look set to stay mild for the next week with low temperatures and little wind.

Rainfall events are expected from cold front activity next week and later in the month.

Producers are hoping this may delay a forecast of a warmer spring, giving crops a chance to make the most of the last of the growing season.

We need a lot more rain for the pasture, especially after the two or three false breaks at the start of the season. Graham Styles

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