Cropping

Rain, rain go away, come again another day

By Rodney Woods

The recent rain across Victoria's north-east has done more bad than good, according to Agriculture Victoria's seasonal risk agronomist Dale Grey.

Mr Grey said despite 50 mm falling across the region so far this year, it had not improved soil moisture.

“So far for the year, 50 mm have fallen in most places but it's been coming in smaller amounts,” he said.

“It hasn’t been able to penetrate the soil profile very deep, which means the sun evaporates it very quickly.

“Anyone that grew a crop right through to fruition has none or next to no soil moisture left, and paddocks cut for hay have 25 per cent left.

“You’d want a full profile by the end of August.

“A normal winter rainfall will see that every year but if we get a particularly dry winter we won't see that.”

Mr Grey said the recent wet weather had the potential to harm livestock.

“It's been good for the garden, good to put water in the tank but it's no great use at all,” he said.

“It could grow weeds, which are toxic for livestock, and farmers have to spend money to spray them to get them out.

“We might as well get none rather than small amounts of rain.”

Cropping farmers will be wanting a good rainfall event near Anzac Day to kick start their winter crops and would need more rain to fall late spring to finish them off.

But Mr Grey said both rainfall events were impossible to predict this far out.

“This time of year is a notorious time to make predictions of what's coming up in three months, let alone in spring,” he said.

“We wouldn’t have a clue. The majority of the models are sitting on the fence that anything could happen (for rainfall in the next three months) and that’s normal.

“Most models are predicting average to warmer temperatures (as well).”