THE AREA of the nation's winter cropping belt that has received a decent autumn break continues to grow, after good rain over South Australia, Victoria and southern NSW last week.
The falls, generally between 15-30mm, consolidated rain the previous week, allowing farmers in areas such as the western Wimmera in Victoria, and the Tatiara district in eastern South Australia to get a crop established.
Further east, areas of central western Victoria, around Ballarat, are on the brink of being too wet, with areas receiving tallies of in excess of 125mm for May alone.
In Western Australia conditions remain relatively dry, while in the northern cropping belt rain has been patchy.
The timely autumn break means many southern growrs have had a markedly better start than last year.
This time last year, South Australia's eastern Eyre Peninsula was in a world of hurt, with near record dry conditions.
Agronomist Sarah Traeger, of Cleve Rural Traders, said this year growers had welcomed a much improved autumn break.
"Around Cleve itself there has been 15-20mm, and people are pretty keen for another rain, but crop is beginning to emerge," Ms Traeger said.
"Closer to Cowell and the coast the rainfall has been heavier, they have been lucky enough to get around 30mm which is a really good start for them.
"Last year, a combination of a series of light showers through July and August putting down just enough moisture, combined with the high prices, was enough to get people out of gaol, this year there is a bit more confidence given we've had a break at a reasonable time of year."
She said farmers were generally focusing on a cereal heavy rotation, but were still happy enough to plant break crops where required.
"The lower risk cereals are popular, but the rain is early enough that canola and pulses can still be planted without yield penalty, the trick will be getting further rain from here on in."
In northern NSW, Boggabilla farmer Pete Mailler said he had been planting, but was getting close to pulling up.
"There is moisture at depth, but we really need to get more rain to get us enthused to plant more and as the days roll on, the chances of getting that big rain event drop.
"It is very patchy here at present, closer to Moree things are terrible, there are some growers with reasonable moisture, but overall, most people are really on the look-out for a big rain, especially after the years of drought we have had."
In the eight-day Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecast there is further useful rainfall of up to 15mm forecast over SA, with lighter falls expected over western Victoria.