SOUTHERN Australian farmers have received a shot in the arm with a series of rain bands over the past week delivering up to 80mm of rain in places such as the southern Eyre Peninsula.
More broadly there have been falls of up to 15mm over parts of the Victorian and SA Mallee while Victoria’s Wimmera region has received 20-40mm.
As has been the case throughout the season there were narrow margins dividing the haves and have-nots, with 30km the difference between 25mm plus over the week and falls less than 15mm.
Ironically, given the drought in NSW and Queensland, there are now parts of south-western Victoria and south-eastern SA where it is now starting to get too wet.
Further north, through South Australia’s upper south-east and the northern Wimmera the solid rainfall has boosted optimism about the season ahead, with crops now in solid condition in the lead-up to spring.
In the Mallee regions further rain is still required, however farmers are happy they have at least got something to keep crops going for a while.
Quambatook farmer Brett Hosking said there had been just over 15mm over his place in the past week.
“It looks OK in patches but parts of the heavier ground are not as good, it has been a bit dry,” Mr Hosking said.
“Farmers on the heavy ground in the south-eastern Mallee, areas such as Nullawil and Berriwillock are really struggling, they need a good rain immediately but other places are a bit better, especially to the south.”
The fickle nature of the season is no more evident than on the Eyre Peninsula.
Peter Whittaker has farms at both Cummins, in the southern EP and Lock, in the north.
Prior to last week, the crops at Lock were in stark contrast to Cummins.
“At Cummins it had been pretty good, but it was very dry at Lock, the crop had emerged but it was just sitting there doing not much.”
However, he said multiple bands of rain had turned things around.
“We’ve had 65mm or so at Lock and that has put a smile on a lot of people’s faces.”
“Some people had failed crop and they might now look to resow.
“They might not necessarily plan to reap the crops, it is more for soil cover, but with higher grain prices and a bit of moisture there it would not take too much to grow a barley crop worth harvesting.
“As for the crops that were just hanging in there, they should get a good boost and we’re in with a chance with them now.”
Further south he said there had been nearly 80mm at Cummins and that it was now properly wet.
In a year with plenty of negative news on the grain production front, Nhill, in the west Wimmera, is one area farmers are faring well.
Nhill district farmer Andrew Colbert said there had been over 30mm for the month of August already.
It comes after just below average falls for June and July.
“Nhill can be an area to miss out on rain, but at present it is looking pretty good,” Mr Colbert said.
“The only issue I have is that after the late break the crops are about a month behind where they are usually – we’ll definitely need some September rain to finish them off.”
Russell Heard farms at Wonwondah in the southern Wimmera and said crops were healthy at present.
“We’ve had about 30mm for the week and it all looks pretty good at present.
“It is not a wet year by any means but we certainly can’t complain about how things are going and it is nice to see the fronts keep rolling through.”
The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting further fronts to sweep across South Australia and Victoria on Saturday and next Wednesday.
Cumulatively there could be a further 25mm in areas such as south-west and north-east Victoria and south-east SA.
The falls are consistent with the forecasts from some climatologists who suggested areas that receive rainfall primarily from frontal systems from the west would not experience as severe a moisture deficit as areas relying on extensive low pressure systems from the north-west for their precipitation.