There has been some unbelievably heavy rain across Victoria over the past week. While many of the heavy falls can be attributed to thunderstorms, nearly all parts of Victoria has had close to 50mm.
But some areas received three to four times this volume.
December records have been broken. In the Mallee and north-eastern parts, 50-year records were smashed with more than 100-210mm of rain falling in some locations.
Woomelang in the Mallee had 173mm, Birchip 195mm, Charlton 130mm, Warragul in west Gippsland 128mm and, in the north-east, Eldorado topped the state with 210mm.
Localised flooding occurred, with parts of the Hume Freeway in the north-east having to be closed.
Many farmers in Victoria were mindful that this rain was coming, and so last week they were flat out completing their hay and grain harvesting.
Farmers were also busy at getting their hay into sheds and under cover to ensure they did not run into quality problems.
Given the exceptional rainfall across the north-east of the state, it will be interesting to see whether this allows any improvement in water allocations in the short to medium term. Water storage levels are expected to rise.
Water prices had become very expensive, so perhaps this rain will enable water operators to revisit their prices.
Fortuitously, a high percentage of Victoria’s grain and hay has already been baled/harvested, so these unseasonal rains are unlikely to cause too many quality problems.
Parts of western Victoria and Gippsland still have some hay lying in paddocks waiting to be baled. This hay will have to wait a little longer.
The positive from all this is that some pastures will last longer, summer crops will get a real kick along and livestock and dairy farmers can defer additional supplementary feeding for a little longer.
Many parts of Gippsland and western Victoria will still be green for Christmas. This often is not the case and a real surprise given how dry September and October were.
The deferment of needing to buy in supplementary feed, whether it be hay or pellets, will allow cash flows to be stretched for Victoria’s dairy farmers. This is a real positive for them.
Victoria’s dairy farmers appear comfortable in pushing their hay needs back for the moment. Next autumn should be when demand starts to pick up again, when pastures stop growing and temperatures turn colder.