Wimmera farmers experience record dry September

Wimmera farmers are struggling after a dry September. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Wimmera farmers are struggling after a dry September. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

WIMMERA farmers are struggling as the region’s record dry spell continues into spring.

Bureau of Meteorology figures show parts of the region experienced their driest September in more than 20 years.

Drung had its driest September on record, receiving only 2.8 millimetres of rain. The average for September is 48mm.

Natimuk, Kaniva and Yanac had their driest September since 1987, receiving 12.4mm, 17.4mm and 18.8mm respectively.

Natimuk’s average September rainfall is 44.9mm and Kaniva’s is 48mm.

Apsley had its driest September since 1977, with 23.6mm.

Victorian Farmers Federation president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said the stress of little rain was getting to farmers.

“We need to get the message out there about where things are at,” he said.

“The season that could’ve been, isn’t, and people are now turning to alternative methods such as cutting crops for hay and spraying out crops.

“It’s important that farmers know they are not alone and we are all in the same big boat.”

Mr Jochinke encouraged farmers to talk to their family or neighbour if they were struggling.

“We need to make sure we are talking about the stress and not bottling it up,” he said.

He said farmers should also ask their neighbours how they were feeling.

“We are probably about three weeks ahead of where we usually are for this time of the year,” he said.

“The quality will be a real mixed bag at harvest.”

Other parts of the region received less than or about half of their average September rain.

Stawell had 14.2mm, which was 28 per cent of the month’s average, Horsham 37.5mm, which was 41 per cent, and Warracknabeal 19.1mm, 47 per cent of its September average.

Nhill had 14.8mm, 54 per cent of its September average. 

Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resources Economics and Statistics’ September crop report forecasts a total winter crop of 38.6 million tonnes, with a wheat estimate of 24.2 million tonnes, barley 7.5 million tonnes and canola 3.4 million tonnes.

These figures were less than June estimates, with wheat and barley down 10 per cent and canola down 21 per cent.

The decline was because of drier than normal conditions. 

However, Mr Jochinke said it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

“The legumes, lentils, chickpeas and even peas to a degree could still have maximum potential,” he said.

“Those crops could turn out to have reasonable yields and while cereals will not be great, legumes particularly still could be.

“It’s not over yet, not by a long shot.”

While in Horsham on Friday, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said the State Government acknowledged it was a difficult time for grain growers.

“However, those growing legumes are not in an as difficult a state of affairs,” he said.

“The Federal Government is responsible for emergency funding for droughts, but we will monitor the situation and see what happens.”

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