Grain farmers welcome good rains throughout the Wimmera and Mallee

RAINING AGAIN: Horsham farmer Tim Rethus was happy after widespread rain in the Wimmera last June - and was singing again, after the latest falls. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
RAINING AGAIN: Horsham farmer Tim Rethus was happy after widespread rain in the Wimmera last June - and was singing again, after the latest falls. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

WIMMERA grain farmers have received one of the best early starts to a season in years, with good rainfall on Thursday night.

Rain throughout the Wimmera and Mallee has set grain farmers up to start ground preparation, weed and pest control.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Rod Dickson said the heaviest falls from the latest weather system were recorded in the north-west of the state.

“We have had reports of 103 millimetres at Woomelang, which is roughly double most other locations,” Mr Dickson said.

The average monthly rainfall was 20mm.

Mr Dickson said it was too early to tell whether it was the awaited “autumn break”.

“We’ve had that question before, with some of the recent rainfall – it is in some areas, it’s not in others, which missed out.

In the Wimmera, significant falls included  Longerenong, which recorded 51.6mm, Edenhope 33mm and Horsham 32.6mm. 

“We had a low pressure trough and upper level system move into western Victoria yesterday, and that linked up with very high moisture levels coming from the north-west and the tropics - those three elements combined to bring the heavy rainfall and thunderstorm activity.”

Victorian Farmers Federation president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said it was great to see the early good signs but was yet to declare the autumn break.

“It has been a long time since we’ve had this kind of rain at this time of year,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the break for everyone but we should have another front coming through that should top us up.

“It should help farmers decide which paddocks to put crops in. The ground is still warm, which should see the weeds start to grow which means we can get a good start on knockdown.”

Mr Jochinke said the harvest outcome still depended largely on weather in months to come.

“It’s a good start to the season but we have got a long way to go,” he said.

“We’ll still need a good spring to establish what we sow, but it has been good for confidence.

We should be able to get some of the grain germinating, especially the barley, which should reduce the mouse pressure a bit.”

Grain Producers Australia chairman and Rupanyup farmer Andrew Weidemann said he had 25-34 millimetres on his farm on Thursday night.

“It’s probably one of the best starts to the season we’ve had in a long time,” he said.

“It’s definitely good for the whole industry. Everyone had been looking to the sky for a bit of confidence.

“We will still need to have good rains in the spring to fill out the crops. The rain should allow farmers to get their weed kill in early, which will take pressure off them later in the year.”

Mr Dickson said there was still a chance of thunderstorms in the coming days, but they would be a lot more “hit and miss.”

Over the weekend, the bulk of the shower activity would occur over southern Victoria, with another system coming through on Monday.

But Mr Dickson said the cold front, which was due to move across Victoria on Anzac Day, was only likely to bring rain south of the ranges.

Horsham farmer Tim Rethus said the falls varied between 32 and 50 millimetres, across the properties.

The Rethus' would be growing wheat, barley, canola, lentils and oaten hay.

“We got most of what we were doing done, before the rain,” Mr Rethus said.

He, and his brother Luke, had been renovating ground, stacking hay and snail baiting.

“The snails are very active now, I saw them all crawling across the road,” Mr Rethus said.

The rain would bring up weeds, so farmers would be looking for a good knock down, before sowing.

“It’s probably not too bad timing, we are discing, so we can do that dry, but a lot of guys will be hooking into it, as soon as they can get onto the paddocks.”

His brother Luke said it was too early to tell whether the autumn break had arrived.

“Who knows, each year is a bit different,” Luke Rethus said.

He said the rain would top up sub-soil moisture.

“It depends on what crops you had on in the previous year, those heavy crops did draw a bit of moisture,” he said.

At Boort, Cam Parker, said the property had received 41mm, by early this morning.

“I was a bit worried when we had only had 2mm up until 5pm and others were quoting big numbers already,” Mr Parker said.

“If we can't call this a break then I reckon we're kidding ourselves.

“I've got no crop in the ground yet so this will be a great chance to have a good weed kill ahead of the seeder and hopefully save a bit on in crop chemical.

“You won't hear me complaining about early moisture.”

He said he would be growing vetch and oats on his own property and wheat, barley, vetch, canola, chickpea and faba beans on other land.