SA has recorded its driest July since 1999 and although some of the state’s parched agricultural districts received up to 50 millimetres of rain in the past week, these falls are not the magic bullet to turn the season around for struggling crops, according to Elders Loxton’s Brian Lynch.
The Riverland region received about 12mm of rain but Mr Lynch said a combination of wind damage, frost, non-existent soil moisture profiles and a dramatically shortened growing season meant rain would not fix what had become one of toughest seasons in years.
“Rain is not the magic bullet to fix everything because we still need length of season. Unprecedented rain from now on will not mean the sky’s the limit for crop potential,” he said.
Mr Lynch said after the rain some growers would begin re-sowing paddocks damaged by strong winds.
“Paddocks will be resown, not for the sake of a crop, but to try and limit the amount of topsoil blowing away,” he said.
Rain this season has been patchy so far in SA, according to Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Darren Ray.
Mr Ray said in the short-term, more rain was on the horizon for the southern and central agricultural areas, as well as some weaker cold frontal activity for the coastal areas.
But from mid-August into September, conditions would be drier than average with warmer than average temperatures likely, but October could bring slightly closer to average rainfall.
“SA is now up to six consecutive months of below average rainfall,” Mr Ray said.
“A strip across the top of the Eyre Peninsula got some useful rainfall in early June that kept crops going and those areas will probably benefit from this rain.
“But areas from the EP to the Far North really missed out until this recent rainfall, but it is probably too late for any crops in those areas.”
Mr Ray said an El Niño was still likely and supported a drier spring but the end of El Nino could bring decent January to March rainfall in pastoral areas in 2019.
Karoonda received 14mm of rain in the past week and Lameroo 10mm, but Curramulka on Yorke Peninsula was lucky to get 50mm.
The highest readings on the YP were 75mm at Corny Point and 70mm at Warooka.
In the Lower and Mid North rainfall varied from 22mm at Mallala, 38mm at Saddleworth and 59mm at Auburn.
Elders Roseworthy agronomist Michael Brougham said wheat crops were stressed and running to head too early because of the dry conditions.
“Growers still do not have a lot of confidence going forward,” he said.
“Moisture probes showed a small amount of moisture got to 30 centimetres after this rainfall but this time last year we had moisture at 90cm, so really, it just bought us a bit of time.”
The Lower EP recorded some of the biggest falls with 70mm at Cummins but there was only 25mm at Kimba and 39mm at Minnipa.