Cropping season nears anti-climactic end

Cropping season nears anti-climactic end

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I SHOULD be well and truly prepared by now, but the start of harvest still takes me by surprise every year.

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I SHOULD be well and truly prepared by now, but the start of harvest still takes me by surprise every year.

I think the news that harvest was under way caught me off guard because there was still a part of me that was holding out hope rain would arrive where it was needed most, in time to make a difference.

Instead, we have temperatures soaring into the high 30s, sunny days and no rain on the radar for another week.

That there are crops to harvest at all in some regions is a real credit to graingrowers. Plants have survived on little more than the rainfall equivalent of the smell of an oily rag.

In days gone by, before soil moisture conservation was such a priority, a year like this would have been a write-off across a much larger area of the state.

Related reading:Heat prompts farmers to get harvest into gear

As much as I dislike the phrase "doing more with less", it's exactly what many graingrowers have achieved this season.

But the reality is, many have known for some time there will be nothing to harvest this year, while others face the rather demoralising task of putting the header in just to recover enough seed for next year, when they do it all again in the hope the outcome will be very different.

The weekend's hot weather was also a reminder that summer will soon be here. The thought that the driest part of the year is still ahead of us is rather concerning.

Drought relief has again been a hot topic this week, with federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg touring drought-affected areas of the east coast and hearing farmers call for direct cash support to help them make it through.

Related reading:Drought is GFC for the bush: Frydenberg

It's a call the Vic government has heeded, and last week it announced a $31-million drought relief package to assist farmers in regions most affected by drought.

Part of this package includes $3m set aside to provide grants of up to $3000 for struggling families.

Following the announcement, opposition primary industries spokesperson Eddie Hughes again called for our state government to step up its efforts and consider providing direct support to producers.

The government says its support effort is "ongoing", but unfortunately so too is this drought. But what will break first - the drought, the government's reluctance to offer a direct support package, or farmers' spirits and willingness to go on in such challenging conditions?

Let's hope it's not the latter.

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