Solid rain in a golden circle around Cowra on the Central-West Slopes has boosted hopes for farmers struggling with the big dry, giving some new confidence amid the drudgery of feeding, and the hope of late lucerne growth.
Many farms in a big circle roughly bordered by Grenfell, Canowindra, out to Mandurama, and south of Cowra received up to 40mm in last week’s blustery and cold rain event. At Cudal the rain built on an earlier April storm to boost soil moisture levels.
Grenfell DeltaAg agronomist and farmer James Ingrey, “Yarraglen”, said the rain about Grenfell was “fantastic for parts of the shire”, although not uniform. “The rainfall ranged from about 14mm through to 30mm around Grenfell. That adds up to 50mm in three week totals for some areas. But for those who got around 14mm they will need some follow up rain pretty soon.” Many had dry sown canola, so the rain was timely. Yield potential for canola was diminishing due to the late break. Mr Ingrey has been feeding his 2000 ewes oats and hay, and had bought grain to take his sheep through to the spring, if things didn’t turn. “I bought enough to get me through to the end of the season. Barley though at the moment is almost improcurable, and quite expensive.”
Phil Cranney LLS Central Tablelands senior land services officer said the rain gave farmers some quick forage cropping options on the lower altitudes. There had been significant rain from Canowindra down to Cowra, out to Grenfell and east to Mandurama. “That will help some get a little bit of growth before winter. Between Manildra and Eugowra there are plenty of tractors sowing in the paddock,” he said. “Cudal has some good soil moisture from a storm six weeks ago. Unfortunately up to Yeoval area there was little more than 5-10mm.
“At Cowra it will be a big boost with lucerne getting a lot of enterprises through, it will give lucerne one more boost before winter. In some places grazing canola is already up after the rain and people will be able to get stock on it in the next two to three weeks. In the higher area sheep farmers should be cautious of phalaris toxicity as that will be the first plant to come up after the rain.” Tetraploid ryegrass and rye corn were good forage options.