AS THE Inverell district sweats through its third straight dry summer, each combined with a previous positive aligning rainfall outlook from Bureau of Meteorology, it is interesting to analysis the possible cause and effect of such a dangerous combination of reality and an inaccurate forecast.
February’s BOM rainfall forecast map for Inverell shows a 60 to 65 per cent chance of achieving our medium February rainfall of 165 millimetres. In our district this is crucial information, as we have had nothing much for 2018 so far.
Excellent February moisture, means an early March oat planting and enough warmth for a mid April graze. Early autumn is weaner sale time for northern NSW and the one opportunity to compete for the annual calf crop.
History has shown us that the early calves will continue with above average weight gains throughout their lives. As such, the early calves will achieve target weights much earlier and be turned off at premium rates and weights before any mid summer market rush. Often the purchase of an early weaner in a wet forecast period has another advantage. The calf is at a cheaper cents a kilogram rate as the market will continue to get stronger as the wet time continues.
In 2017, for example, the early forecast was strong, but the actual rain came late. This meant the early weaner pre rain sales were up to $180/head cheaper than the later rain affected offerings of lesser calves
I mentioned “cause and effect” earlier. The decisions are easy in a “normal” time. What do you do if the forecast is very strong (like right now), but it hasn't rained? Each decision has a serious consequence.
Do you risk a serious financial hit and sow dry on such a positive forecast? Do you wait for rain, and risk a continuing wet spell and missed opportunities?
It seems during the past 12 or 18 months, whenever the BOM has made a general medium range forecast or per cent weighted indication, the opposite has happened.
To me, it seems, in the old days (pre the internet) if you where worried about the weather, you would have a designated “old timer” you could discuss the weather pattern with. The “old timer” taught us to be observational. Today it is different, our decisions are based on an app button on our smart phone.
As I delve deeper into the BOM site, to answer the Inverell district oat sowing question, I notice there is a 95pc chance of at least 50mm and an 80pc chance of 100mm in the next two or three weeks.
Alarmingly, the BOM past accuracy self rating for this district is “very low”! What will we do? Probably ignore the computers, the Angophora Floribundas are flowering nicely, so maybe plant dry.