Rain raises hope of Millewa miracle

Rain raises hope of Millewa miracle


A fortnight ago farmers in north-west Victoria were looking to play their get-out-of-jail free card - rain has got the season back on track.

The Millewa has been extremely dry during the start to 2021 as this photo from April shows.

The Millewa has been extremely dry during the start to 2021 as this photo from April shows.

JUST a fortnight ago the prospects for the Millewa region in the far north-west of Victoria and across the western border into the South Australian Mallee were looking particularly grim.

The region had suffered through one of the driest first halves of the year on record and the July rainfall had not been significant.

However widespread falls of 25-50mm for the month, mainly in frequent, light rain events, have put a spark in the step of farmers in the region and raised hopes of escaping with an average season with good conditions from here on in.

Adding to the optimism is the long-term forecast for the region which is for cooler and wetter conditions into the spring.

Merrinee farmer Chris Hunt said the rain had been particularly welcomed in the west of the region and across into the SA Mallee.

"The west of the Millewa and into SA was doing it tougher they had only received about 10mm for June, but most of us are now up to around 35-45mm for the month," Mr Hunt said.

"The crops are behind, there was uneven germination and a little bit of sand damage after they germinated on a little rain in June but there is still potential there," he said.

"As long as it not too harsh and hot we are in with a chance, there is little subsoil moisture so September is going to be a very important month for us but we're still in with a good shot."

He said the recent rain had been pleasing as it had exceeded expectations.

"We got a bit more than expected which is always nice."

Michael Moodie, Frontier Farming, Mildura, said crops were looking better near Carwarp, closer to Mildura, than further to the west, due to more June rainfall.

However, he said other areas were catching up on the back of a reasonable July.

"We're still a little confident, we've only had around 50mm for the year in a lot of spots and we don't often get less than 100mm for the year so if we can get that 50mm over the next couple of months it would really help," Mr Moodie said.

Mr Moodie said crops were late, but there had been later starts to the season.

"In 2012 it wasn't until mid-July that things really got a rain, so it does happen," he said.

"We can still get things going, it will all depend on when the rainfall lands, if you can get around 130mm growing season rainfall it go from either pretty reasonable to poor just depending on when the rain falls and whether the crop can respond," he said.


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