Focus on dry outlook

By Rodney Woods

Agriculture Victoria hosted a seasonal update workshop at Wyuna on Thursday, as part of a four-location tour around northern Victoria.

The speakers included Goulburn-Murray Water’s Andrew Shields, Agriculture Victoria’s Dale Grey and Colin Peace from Jumbuk Consulting.

Mr Shields said with the dry conditions, G-MW had delivered more water this year in comparison to the same time last year.

‘‘We have delivered 150Gl more than the same time last year,’’ he said.

The dry conditions could be seen in a table displayed by Mr Shields, which stated the probability of exceedance, a figure that shows the expectations around inflows for a certain storage system.

‘‘In the Hume storage, 88 per cent means 88 years in 100 you would expect to get more inflow than that and 12 years in 100, we’d expect to get less,’’ he said.

‘‘So nearly 1200Gl of inflows is in the last 12 per cent of inflow records, so very much on the dry side of things.’’

Mr Grey, who discussed the seasonal weather outlook, filled his presentation with humour from start to finish.

‘‘Here is a map of Victoria showing how green it is from space over the month of August. But what I have marked on here is what I’m euphemistically calling ‘the line of shite’,’’ he said.

‘‘Basically everywhere north of there in the last couple of weeks has seen a pretty dramatic demise in crop condition.’’

Mr Grey said conditions were likely to be warmer and drier going forward.

‘‘More than half the models have a dry Victoria. Six of them in fact,’’ he said.

‘‘History tells me that in August and September when the models have got that degree of conviction over something different from average that has nearly always been what’s turned out ... and (there is) a much stronger consensus towards warmer temperatures for the next three months as well.’’

With this all in mind, Mr Peace said the conditions would force many farmers to cut canola for hay, especially in areas like Elmore, Rochester, Dookie and Tungamah.

‘‘The hay situation in Victoria is murky,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s two things to take out of this graph — the bulk of the hay (in Victoria) is pasture hay but a good chunk of it is cereal hay and of all hay that’s traded, as you well know, the cereal hay is the thing that invariably is the thing you buy when you buy hay.

‘‘The future of the market rests in the supply of cereal hay, not so much pasture because pasture generally stays on the farm from which it was produced.’’

The other three workshops were held at Katunga, Leitchville and Pyramid Hill.