Our trip north during early July traveled the full length of the Newell Highway, across the Darling Downs onto to the Wide Bay area of Queensland.
Mostly the areas at the time proved seasonally uninspiring however our return journey just early last week via the NSW mid-coast, through the Hunter then inland was far more enlightening.
At the top of the Hunter, around Merriwa and heading towards the Dubbo in the NSW central west, sadly, conditions still appeared very dry and very winterfied.
Livestock stock numbers, from the road at least, were lighter than expected and it was not a surprise to learn of the big turn-off numbers currently being sold at the regions saleyards such as Dubbo, Forbes and to a less extent Singleton.
In the days before travelling through this country it was obvious some rainfall have been fallen but it was too soon after the event to gauge any noticeable benefit. This was also the case between Parkes, Forbes and West Wyalong where seasonal conditions appeared to be “hanging on” as paddocks with stock appeared well eaten and crops sown to cereals and legumes had only grown sufficiently to hide the residue straw remaining from last year’s stubbles.
Entering the Riverina at Narrandera and further down towards its southern border, via Jerilderie, Conargo and Deniliquin rain was falling onto already dampened ground. No doubt this was a follow-up fall and it will provide much needed relief for the Riverina as was described by one of my guest columnists, Ron Rutledge, only four weeks prior in this column.
Returning to Victoria, via Echuca, was likened to entering a freshly painted room. Sown crops despite June’s dry and frosty weather beamed with good growth and vivid colour and the further one traveled north, west or south conditions only seemed to get better.
My first day back on the job (Monday) involved a visit to the Bendigo lamb market where a substantial supply of new season’s young lambs comprised about 50 percent of its 12,100-head lamb yarding. There an air of optimism surrounded the lookout for the season, and the prospects for the spring lamb market given the recent rainfalls during the past fortnight.
With more rain expected again this week, most crops and pastures across the north and west are now building a feed-wedge that should allow producers to again control supply and foster confidence to restock as this spring flush matures.
In fact agents and producers alike, at Bendigo, spoke glowingly of an anticipated status quo in prices, an expected slightly larger supply and a spring season being similar to last year.