Farmers making most of ‘bone-dry’
Victoria’s peak farming body leader described a long stretch of dry weather across the Wimmera before a brief period of rain as an opportunity for growers to ready themselves for an autumn break.
Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke said there had been little need to panic about a lack of rain, and in fact the ‘bone-dry’ conditions had been, for many, more beneficial than a mix between damp and dry.
“The small amount of rain we had did in fact give us some of that mix, but importantly, it also gave everyone confidence that conditions could suddenly turn and there was a potential for rain,” he said.
“What it also does is allow cropping to get into full swing and get everyone looking for the next downpour to get their crops in.
“But reality was, as far as the season was going for many growers, we weren’t absolutely desperate for rain right now, but we’re not knocking any back.
“We’re so late in the game that most people were looking for rain post Anzac Day.
“We’ve been in this circumstance so many times before. Farmers are now well and truly used to dry sowing.
“We were far from panicking and dry sowing is okay in the Wimmera if we can get a decent drop after Anzac Day.”
Mr Jochinke, who farms at Murra Warra, north of Horsham, said dry conditions had also allowed many farmers to move considerable amounts of hay that had built up in the past couple of years.
“Personally, we’ve also been able to do a bit of fencing and there has been plenty of windrowing to do,” he said.
Mr Jochinke said the extended dry had, however, narrowed a window of opportunity for farmers to prepare paddocks for burn-off programs.
“Hopefully after the cool change goes through and the weather loses some of its sting farmers will get a chance to get some burning done. There is a lot to be done,” he said.
Mr Jochinke reminded farmers, despite a cool change, that they had a major responsibility in managing burn-offs.
“Fire restrictions are still in force, which is a sign of how dry it is,” he said.
“We’ve had a few occasions with people burning off under permit, but at the same time not looking after their fires.
“We have to make sure that all fires are extinguished by the end of the day.
“People in the region should also expect to see some smoke across the region.”
A traditional Wimmera belief is that chances of a bumper harvest across the region comes after an autumn break with heavy rain by Anzac Day. But other theories suggest more reliable crops come after a May break
Regional centres across the Wimmera during the April 14 and 15 weekend recorded between 5.2 millimetres of rain, Warracknabeal, and 15mm, Ararat.