Multi-million dollar rain boost

Timely rain boosts crop prospects in the south


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It wasn't a deluge by any means, but exquisitely timed falls of 10-20mm through Victoria's cropping belt could be worth up to $300 million.

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Jason Pymer's Bonito canola at Wonwondah, south of Horsham, is podding up well.

Jason Pymer's Bonito canola at Wonwondah, south of Horsham, is podding up well.

WHILE rain in the northern cropping zone is too late to be of optimum use, Victorian growers are celebrating a critical October rain which will bolster on-farm income across the State’s north-west by up to $300 million.

There were widespread falls of between 10-20mm through Victoria’s major cropping regions, the Wimmera and the Mallee, with crops at a critical stage in their development.

Wonwondah, south of Horsham, farmer Jason Pymer said the 18mm he received at his property would help lock in yield.

“The year had been set up with good potential, but it had been drying off,” he said.

“This rain will help crops get close to their early potential, you never knock back rain in October.”

He said his Bonito variety canola, pictured, was shaping up well.

“Its yield is largely set now, but the rain will help with seed size.”

Based on a plant of 2.4 million hectares through the Wimmera-Mallee region, with roughly 50pc wheat, 20pc canola, 20pc pulse crops and 10pc barley, the rain will mean millions of dollars in growers’ pockets.

The figure of $300 million is based on a wheat price of $220/t, canola and lentil prices of $550/t and barley at $200/t.

Water use efficiency for the October rain is calculated at 40 kilograms a hectare per millimetre of rain for wheat and barley and 20kg/ha/mm for canola and pulses. This compares to the season-long average of around 20kg/ha/mm for cereals and 10kg/ha/mm for the broadleaf crops.

The rainfall average is calculated at 15mm across the region, meaning an extra 600,000 tonnes of wheat production and 140,000t more of canola and pulses respectively.

At Rupanyup, in the eastern Wimmera, Peter Teasdale had 13mm.

“It was a little less than we’d hoped and we will still need further rain, but we certainly won’t complain about it,” he said.

Further to the north, much of the Mallee received 15mm in its first substantial spring rainfall.

Jason Pymer said text messages from his automatic weather station, including rain and soil moisture levels, made for pleasant reading after 18mm this week.

Jason Pymer said text messages from his automatic weather station, including rain and soil moisture levels, made for pleasant reading after 18mm this week.

Water use efficiency figures from the rain in the Mallee will not be as high as in the Wimmera as crops are further advanced and will use the rain more to fill grain rather than generate yield.

Some crops have also been frosted in the Mallee, which is now generally on track for an average season, with pockets both better and worse than the median.

Across the border in SA, Mallee farmers generally received between 5-15mm.

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