Farm­ers mak­ing most of ‘bone-dry’

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Ag Life - BY DEAN LAWSON

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.

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