Driest season in years for south
Most growers in WA are harvesting bumper crops, but not along WA’s south coast where farmers face dry dams, are selling or handfeeding sheep, and are getting barely half a normal yield.
Rural Financial Counselling Service of WA counsellor Andrew Grist said growers in the Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun areas, through to Jerramungup and Albany, were reporting the driest season in more than 50 years. At West River, near Ravensthorpe, the Duncan family had just 168mm of rain from April to October, and 240mm for the year to date, compared with 370mm in an average year.
Jodi Duncan, who farms with brother Rian and his wife Karryn, said because of a lack of germinated pastures for feed, they sold 2000 sheep, leaving 7500. “Our biggest problem is that the dams are running dry — which is a major concern across the district,” Ms Duncan said.
“We try to keep this year in perspective by reminding ourselves 2018 followed six aboveaverage years for our property,” she said. “Our cropping results this year, considering these conditions, also demonstrate how far farming has come. In 2002 we also had an exceptionally dry year . . . but grain yields then were about half of what we are getting now.”