Na­tional sea­sonal up­date

Dairy News Australia - - FRONT PAGE - RICK BAYNE

AF­TER LAST year’s wet win­ter, Aus­tralia’s dairy farm­ers seem to be ap­pre­ci­at­ing a more le­nient start to the sea­son in 2017.

But while the drier con­di­tions are help­ing with some win­ter pas­tures and re­duc­ing soil dam­age, some farm­ers are strug­gling with their crops and there are con­cerns brew­ing about the longterm im­pact if good spring rains don’t fol­low.

The Bu­reau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy’s monthly and sea­sonal cli­mate out­looks for July to Septem­ber pre­dict be­low av­er­age rain­fall in parts of the south­east and south­west of the coun­try, and warmer-than-av­er­age days and nights for much of Aus­tralia.

Gipp­s­land farmer Brad Mis­sen has en­dured the dri­est start to the year in mem­ory.

“We’ve had no run-off or sig­nif­i­cant rain­fall event since De­cem­ber,” he said.

His milk­ing farm at Deni­son is on ir­ri­ga­tion and is grow­ing good grass. “It’s just about ideal grow­ing con­di­tions on the ir­ri­ga­tion land for the time of year,” Mr Mis­sen said.

“We’re for­tu­nate in that re­spect but the flip­side is our weir is only 25% full. We’ve had very lit­tle in-flows since Septem­ber. It’s usu­ally at least half full or even close to full this time of year.”

June’s in­flows were only about 5-10% of av­er­age. “It’s a con­cern but we’ve still got our big­gest rain­fall months to come,” Mr Mis­sen said.

The farm also has dry land pad­docks for fod­der re­serves.

“We were late get­ting crops in on the dry land be­cause of the late and in­signif­i­cant rain,” he said. “We need rain rea­son­ably soon to get the crops grow­ing so we can start har­vest­ing in Septem­ber.”

Ac­cel­er­at­ing Change man­ager at Mur­ray Dairy, Amy Fay, said a dry June com­bined with some se­vere frosts had put some pres­sure on pas­ture and crop growth, par­tic­u­larly in ar­eas that did not re­ceive the large rain­fall events in April.

“Timely rain­fall events have oc­curred this week which have as­sisted, as has cost ef­fec­tive feed car­ried over from last sea­son,” Ms Fay said.

“If dry con­di­tions con­tinue, prepa­ra­tions for a dry spring will likely be helped by lower wa­ter prices and high al­lo­ca­tion.”

Cur­dievale farmer and WestVic Dairy chair Si­mone Ren­yard said most farm­ers in West­ern Vic­to­ria seemed pleased with the sea­son.

“From what I‘m hear­ing most peo­ple are find­ing the sea­son quite good and peo­ple in my re­gion are feel­ing op­ti­mistic about that side of things,” Mrs Ren­yard said.

“There seems to be a fair bit of grass in the ground, but there is a bit of con­cern about the up­com­ing spring and where that might head.”

DairyTAS Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Mark Smith also said the sea­son was get­ting a tick from most farm­ers.

“The sea­sonal con­di­tions have been pretty good,” he said. “We’re prob­a­bly a bit on the lighter side for rain but farm­ers would want to be cau­tious be­cause there will be more rain com­ing as win­ter un­folds.”

“Most ar­eas are pretty sat­is­fied with the amount of rain­fall; bear­ing in mind last year was too wet.”

Mr Smith said it was drier in the east of the state, away from the dairy ar­eas.

Dairy SA chair and Fleurieu Penin­sula farmer Michael Con­ner said May and June had been drier than usual in the area.

“It’s been a re­ally dry June and crop­ping ar­eas sur­round­ing dairy have been dry, so the price of grain has gone up.”

Some good rain in early July has helped.

“We’ve had slow growth and we’re be­hind where we’d nor­mally be, but not any se­ri­ous con­cerns, it’s more the im­pact on the crop­ping ar­eas.”

“A lot of ar­eas have just had some good rain so I think we’ll be go­ing okay from now on,” he said.

Si­mone Ren­yard

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