News

Rain a welcome sight for farmers

By Alana Christensen

Rain may be been an unfamiliar sight across the region, but it was certainly a welcome one last week.

Farmers rejoiced as healthy falls broke a long-running dry patch in a number of regions, with as much as 49mm falling in Strathbogie across the past week, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Falls of more that 40mm were also recorded at Nagambie (47mm) and Murchison (46mm). Kyabram registered 37mm in the rain gauge, Deniliquin 34mm, Seymour 31mm, Rochester 24.2mm, Colbinabbin 23mm and Kerang 20.6mm.

Many towns received less than a fifth of their average rainfall between February and April as dry conditions took their toll.

With sowing under way across northern Victoria and the southern Riverina, it was well-timed rain, according to sheep and mixed cropping farmer Ged McCormick — but more is needed.

About 22mm fell on his Elmore property and helped to put a smile on his face.

‘‘It was nowhere near enough to get us out of trouble but it gets you going and keeps you hopeful,’’ Mr McCormick said.

‘‘It was nice to get the crop in in the dry but we need more rain ... We’ll take as much as the boss upstairs wants to send us.’’

Mr McCormick will finish sowing about 1200ha of mainly canola, wheat and barley in the coming days and is hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s horror season.

After prolonged dry conditions he was forced to cut much of his wheat and canola crops for hay.

‘‘You’ve just got to stay positive. We’re just hoping it’s a better year than last; that was a hard year for a lot of people,’’ he said.

‘‘But we’re all just gamblers at the end of the day, aren’t we?’’

The rain couldn’t have come at a better time for those purchasing water off the temporary market.

Although water prices recently peaked at $660/Ml according to Waterpool Co-op, farmers may be able to hold off on purchasing water at the current price of about $560/Ml as a result of the rain.

It has been a case of ‘‘biting the bullet’’ for Gunbower dairy farmer Stephen Brown, who recently watered his annuals.

The rain was icing on the cake.

‘‘It was one of the most prolonged dry periods I’ve ever seen,’’ Mr Brown said.

‘‘Even in the drought you’d get the occasional thunderstorm ... We missed out on a couple of rains that others got so the 20mm was perfect.’’

After weeks of dealing with dust-covered paddocks, Mr Brown said it was like ‘‘the opaque film was lifted’’ when the rain cleared.

‘‘I think a lot of farmers hope for the best and prepare for the worst, but this could set us up.’’

The rain is expected to continue, with as much as 10mm to 25mm predicted to fall by Friday.