Rain starting to affect producers

Rain starting to affect producers


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Consistent winter and spring rain, throughout Victoria, is starting to have an impact on dairy, sheep and crop production, although beef producers seem to have largely escaped unscathed.

Consistent winter and spring rain, throughout Victoria, is starting to have an impact on dairy, sheep and crop production, although beef producers seem to have largely escaped unscathed.

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Hugh and Wayne Caldow, Langlea, Edenhope, said they’d received almost double the amount of rain, originally forecast.

They received 32.5mm of rain last Wednesday night on their 1400 hectare property, on which they run a mixed sheep and cropping operation, after only being forecast about 10 to 20mm.

Hugh Caldow said the recent rainfall had contributed to what was already an incredibly wet season.

“At the end of August, it was looking like we’d have the best season we could have ever hoped for,” Mr Caldow said.

But as things continued to get “wetter and wetter”, he said it was all becoming too much.

“We’re quite waterlogged at the moment, which will reduce our yield by about 50pc.”

He added the positives would outweigh the negatives, and that the conditions would set them up for a good summer.

“We’ve had a magnificent year, lambs are finishing early, wool cuts are well above average, there’s plenty of feed about, and all of the lakes and dams are full,” he said.

“Thankfully it’s spring, not the start of winter.”

Victoria had its second-wettest September on record, with areas of highest September rainfall on record in the State's north and west, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

Victorian rainfall was 94% above average, the highest since 1916.

Portland dairy farmer, Jessa Fleming

Portland dairy farmer, Jessa Fleming

Many sites, particularly in the State's west, had their highest September daily rainfall on record and thehighest total September rainfall on record

Prairie sheep producer Allan Wiltshire said the biggest trouble he was facing was getting his animals shorn.

“It’s been a bit tough, the paddocks have been so wet,” Mr Wiltshire said.

“We are into our third week, and we are still not finished – we have some in the shed drying.”

He said shearing normally only took seven days.

In the dairy sector, one farmer reported a lack of grass meant weaned calves were being fed 100 per cent purchased fodder.

Others said they had grass, but were unable to get cows onto it, because of trampling and mud covered pasture.

They were unable to cut grass for hay or silage, because it was too wet. 

Portland’s Jessa Fleming said her property was nearing a metre of rain, for the year.

“We’ve cracked 900mm for the year to date,” Ms Fleming said.

“Our grass isn’t growing, it’s all a bit too wet, and it’s hard finding suitable paddocks for the cows to calve in.

“We’re not too bad, we missed out on the last big storm, but I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to a week of sunshine and a couple of 20 degree days.

“But I’d rather have this rain now, than in June – we are setting ourselves up for a really great summer.”

Croppers in the west said it was too early to tell the extent of damage to cereals or grains, from the extensive rain.

Warracknabeal’s Julia Hauser said the overall outlook was positive, as the rain would top up the soil moisture, into next year.

“It’s rolling into one big fat total now,” Ms Hauser said.

“We will have damage but it’s hard to assess what that will be, whether it is from disease or wet feet – it’s not a disaster, but it won’t achieve the full potential it could have.”

She was growing wheat, barley, lentils, canola and vetch on the property.

“The next big decision is on the hay and what to do with it – it should have been cut two weeks ago, but we haven’t been able to get out on it.”

​Mallee farmer, Simon Craig, Kooloonong, said he was one of a number of farmers looking for a dry spell.

RAIN EFFECTS: Hugh Caldow, Langlea, Edenhope, has received almost double the amount of rain than what was originally forecast, leaving a lot of his pastures waterlogged. Picture: Joely Mitchell.

RAIN EFFECTS: Hugh Caldow, Langlea, Edenhope, has received almost double the amount of rain than what was originally forecast, leaving a lot of his pastures waterlogged. Picture: Joely Mitchell.

CROP DAMAGE: The irrigation system on Tyler Nelson's Boort farm. Picture: Tyler Nelson.

CROP DAMAGE: The irrigation system on Tyler Nelson's Boort farm. Picture: Tyler Nelson.

He said the property had received a “phenomenal amount of rain. 

“We are sitting on 360mm, with three months to go,” Mr Craig said.

“There are no really negative effects, other than the barley struggling to get up.”

He said the biggest pressure facing farmers in the region was what to do with the vetch, as spraying it would rule out using it for hay but leaving it could result in disease taking hold. He said he was still deciding whether to cut it for hay, grain, or turn it into brown manure.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) forecasts had been quite accurate.

“The forecasts have been reasonably good, but reasonably scary – every seven days, there’s another front on the horizon.”

He said he grew wheat, barley, canola, lupins, chickpeas and vetch.

But in south Gippsland, beef producers have reported mixed results. 

Fish Creek’s Paul Crock, of Gippsland Natural Beef, said the area appeared to have missed out on much of the heavy rainfall.

“Everybody else was getting 25-30mm, we were getting eight mm,” Mr Crock said.

“We thought we were getting out of a drought scenario, we are looking really good, but we are not wet – I’m still running around in Blundstones, not gum boots.”

The rain had been “nice and consistent.

“I am not one to whinge about it, we have had a nice little bit of rain, but if the season was to shut down now, we wouldn’t be any better off than we have been, for the past couple of years.”

To the south, Rob Liley, Walkerville, turns off cattle for JBS.

“We haven’t been getting the rain everybody else has been getting and we are unbelievably grateful for that,” Mr Liley said.

“Compared with last year, we are about 150mm over what we got for the whole of last year.

“We are wet, as wet, as wet – there is a lot of run off, the dams are full and the winter creeks are still running.

Mr Liley said the rain had delayed him getting fertiliser onto his paddocks by about a month.

“Where we are has sea on three sides, so it’s been a pretty tough winter for the stock, with the chill factor from the breeze.”

He said the wet conditions meant stock had also churned up the country.

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