Wandering off to "perfect" start
As Chad Ferguson wheeled the airseeder out for its first lap of the season on Tuesday, the Wandering farmer could barely contain his smile.
With the first few laps of Cobbler canola under his belt, Chad, who farms with wife Julie, said it was the first time in years there had been a "normal break" in Wandering.
"We've had dry starts for a lot of years - this is a bit more like it used to be in Wandering," Chad said.
"It's been a while since we've seeded into moisture without dust.
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"In the past few years we've just had nothing there and the plants have had to survive on whatever moisture was on the surface."
The couple have received 40mm of rain since April 29 and while the wet weather is more than welcome, to an extent its timing caught the couple unaware.
With spraying, seeding, stubble burning and lambing all earmarked for May, things are set to be busy for the Fergusons - not that Chad is complaining.
"What is good is that we're going to be lambing on green feed â€¦ we haven't done that for a while either because we lamb fairly early in May," he said.
"This is the first time for a while that we'll have lambs on the ground with green feed.
"The biggest thing was we had the summer rain as well so we've got the subsoil moisture there."
Nearby, fellow Wandering farmer Judith Price described the 38mm of rain that fell on her property as "fabulous".
"It was a lovely, gentle start, the grass is coming up quickly and there was no washing - it's perfect," she said. Although she is yet to start seeding, Judith said she would stick to her usual program, which she would like to have in the ground by the end of the month.
"I want the ryegrass to be at the two-leaf stage before I use a knockdown," she said.
But while some are rejoicing at a near-perfect start to the season, for others the elusive break is yet to occur.
In the week to Tuesday Dalwallinu had received 6mm, Doodlakine 10mm and Kellerberrin 2mm.
According to the Agriculture Department's director of practice and systems innovation, David Bowran, much of the agricultural belt is looking at close to average rainfall from May to October.
The bad news is that some pockets are more likely to see drier conditions - and they're the same areas that missed out last year.
"There's an area from Southern Cross to Lake Grace â€¦ and there's also an area around Salmon Gums and Beaumont which has a lower chance of exceeding the median (rainfall) in that period," he said.
"There are parts of the Wheatbelt that have very little stored water, particularly in the northern agricultural region. From what I've heard most of that area has had 10-15mm of rain in the last week or so.
"They should have adequate moisture to at least get their canola or lupins out of the ground."
But with some warm temperatures forecast in coming weeks, the question is whether hot days will nullify the effects of some of the smaller rainfall events.
"There is the possibility we might get some more systems coming through in the next week or so but it is noticeable that a number of models have the last two weeks in May as being on the dry side," Dr Bowran said.
"The prospects generally are much better this year than what we've seen for a couple of years and its still only early May. There are still a couple of weeks to go before we would stress out over lack of rainfall in any way."
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