Sceptics abound as rains falter

Sceptics abound as rains falter

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Enjoying the school holidays is Josh Beare, 12, with his grandfather P&L Livestock’s Chris Manser at Friday’s Mount Gambier store cattle market.

Enjoying the school holidays is Josh Beare, 12, with his grandfather P&L Livestock’s Chris Manser at Friday’s Mount Gambier store cattle market.

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Michael Lamont confesses to being something of a climate change sceptic but is starting to doubt his feelings.

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I READILY confess to being something of a climate change sceptic, but lately I'm starting to doubt my feelings about the information that seems to be thrust on all and sundry by a whole bevy of scientists, experts and pseudo-academics, who seem to happily predict the end of all mankind with a certain amount of religious zeal that I find more than a bit irritating.

It's no great secret there are vast tracts of SA that have struggled to gain any significant rain events in 2015. You just have to head to Dublin market to be left in no doubt that even those 'cockies' who are blessed enough to farm in the more secure areas of the state have been struggling to understand what's happened.

To those farming in more marginal areas there are few surprises and years where harvesting seed for the next year is, if not a regular occurrence, then certainly one that happens at least once a decade.

I am fortunate to live in one of the lucky areas of the state. The Southern Flinders has had rain and plenty of it while the Lower North and Mid North, Adelaide Plains, Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula, Mallee and Upper South East have all battled to achieve anything at all approaching average rainfall.

But this could all change in the blink of an eye. Even as I'm writing this in the wee small hours of Wednesday morning the rain is bucketing down outside my unit in Two Wells.

Apparently this is a broad rain band that is going to bring general falls to most agricultural areas, thank heavens for that!

The effect on markets will be profound if there is insufficient rain to resurrect the season, as spring lamb markets will suddenly become an immature winter lamb season.

Already there are reports of the wholesale movement of sucker lambs by Mallee producers. The good news is that these lightweight crossbreds are rumoured to be selling for about the $100 mark.

This week's Bendigo, Vic, report illustrates the seriousness of the situation. There was an increased yarding of new season's lambs as is normal, however the abnormal part was a big increase in sheep yarded.

Sadly the increase consisted largely of the mothers of the immature sucker lambs yarded, as producers look to lighten the load due to dwindling feed resources.

A continued dry season could have devastating effects on Upper SE cattle producers, with many still reeling from a poor finish in 2014.

The cow turn-off from most properties in the latter part of 2014 was huge, the saleyard price for good cows spiked and they were returning hitherto unheard of prices of $1.50 a kilogram to $1.80/kg. Many took advantage of the price because it was too expensive to feed. In hindsight the hay may have been cheap as cow prices have continued to climb their way into rarefied air.

Just add water, and the rest will take care of itself!

The prospects for beef, lamb, mutton and grain are bright and the only foreseeable problem is being able to grow the product.

As long as the north of the state keeps outperforming traditional good country we are going to be faced with production problems.

If Quorn keeps receiving more rain than Roseworthy then I am going to embrace climate change advocates and hand in my sceptics badge!

The story Sceptics abound as rains falter first appeared on Farm Online.

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