Season rides on kind September

Claire TyrrellCountryman

This season hangs in the balance for Wubin farmers the Carter family.

Boyd Carter farms with his parents, Keith and Rosemary, 20km east of Wubin, on 8450 hectares of arable land.

Rainfall events have been few and far between this growing season for the Carters - they have had less than 100mm so far.

"We would normally have had at least 150mm by now," Keith said.

"The season is very much in the balance but we've had a lot worse.

"We have been staring down the barrel before and had 100mm in August (of 2003), so anything could happen."

Keith said the late break to the season would make September a crucial month for the crops.

"Because the crops didn't really emerge until June, September is going to be all important to us," he said.

"We are going to need a soft finish - even if it doesn't rain we at least need cool weather."

Boyd said the crops were still hanging on from solid rains late last year and early this year.

"We had one of our best summer rainfalls ever when 80mm fell between December and February," he said.

"The moisture didn't link up enough for some of the crops to get away though, so germination has been patchy."

The Carters' farm received no rain in March, 8mm in April, 15mm in May, 74mm in June, 18mm in July and up to 16mm so far in August.

Boyd said a three-week dry spell in May took its toll on the canola.

"We had to reseed about a third our canola," he said. "I can't remember a time when we have had to reseed and I have been back on the farm for 12 years."

This year, the Carters sowed Tanami, Cobbler and Stingray canola. They had to resow a proportion of the Cobbler and Tanami.

Boyd said last week's 11mm of rain came at an opportune time for the crops and could turn the season around.

"The crops definitely needed it," he said. "We were going to stop putting Flexi-N out because we thought everything had enough to get a 1.5 tonne per hectare average.

"But if we get another rain soon we might get 1.7 tonnes and put more nitrogen out."

Boyd said the family usually averaged about 1.8 tonnes per hectare across all crops and this season looked like it would come in under that.

The Carters put out one application of nitrogen at seeding and topped up their crops with nitrogen afterwards.

Keith said the family, who have been on the land since 1944, were "eternal optimists" who quickly forgot about the bad times.

"We quickly forget about the disasters and try to think about the good things," he said.

The Carters also run 2600 Merino breeding ewes.

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