Farmers celebrated the best autumn break in 124 years this year.LIBBY PRICE June 19, 2014 3:39am
As the heavens continued to open over Benalla this week farmers celebrated the best autumn break in living memory.
Bureau of Meteorology rainfall figures from the past 124 years show the highest ever total rainfall for the three months from March to May of 260
The average for that period is 156
The rain had given grain crops a very promising start to the growing season.
Stewarton grain growers Stuart and Michelle Feldtman have had a huge confidence boost and now estimate their wheat crops have the potential to yield six to seven
‘‘We’ve really only had one frost and crops are emerging very quickly, say in seven days, when germination usually takes about two weeks,’’ Mr Feldtman said.
The mild temperatures have also encouraged insect pests, with some not usually considered to be a problem for crops such as slaters, slugs and millipedes.
Last week the Feldtmans had to resow a canola crop due to earwig damage.
‘‘Our soils are in much better condition than they were, say 20 years ago, due to stubble retention and cultivating using narrower points,’’ Mr Feldtman said.
‘‘Unfortunately that also creates the ideal environment for soil-dwelling pests.’’
With the ground so wet, it’s been challenging to get farm machinery on the heavier clay soils, with ‘‘trafficability’’ limited.
The Feldtmans still haven’t been able to access their hill country where they need to spray for rust and water weed.
Mr Feldtman admits he has got his spray unit bogged once and had to rely on his neighbour to tow him out using a quad tractor.
Benalla rural merchandiser Peter Davis has had his best year of sales.
‘‘This is the one you dream about,’’ Mr Davis said. ‘‘It started in January when farmers focused on having a good year, after 10 to 15 fairly ordinary ones, and 10 very ordinary; hopefully the pendulum is swinging in our favour.’’
It has also been one of the worst seasons for internal parasites in sheep and cattle.
Some beef farmers have reported cow deaths due to grass tetany and have been supplementary feeding hay to try to boost magnesium levels.
The only long-term ‘‘dampener’’ has been the Bureau of Meteorology prediction that the El Nino weather system has been strengthening, which usually means drier than average conditions and a higher probability of below average rain for winter.
Shepparton Swans and Benalla both had altered coaching panels for the Goulburn Valley Football League grand final rematch on Saturday.
The Mulwala Lions had satisfying and hard fought win, in difficult conditions, against last year’s grand finalists at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
The second annual Bonnie and Clyde Rods, Rats and Rides Festival fired up at Tatura Park at the weekend (April 11-12), drawing thousands of petrol heads and rockabilly music lovers to Tatura.
As part of Lyme Disease Awareness Month in May, the Riverine Herald will shed light on the debilitating, yet controversial, illness through the eyes of those fighting it.
Lockington Vintage Tractor and Stationary Engine Rally is on for the 18th time this weekend and there is something for everyone.
Kyabram and District Sportstar of the Year nominations finalised
Three local clubs get together at Kings Park.
Tributes flow for Finley's inspiring mother, friend and farming advocate Jennifer Hawkins
A visit by Coliban Water to Heathcote last week provided residents with a chance to quiz staff about water and sewer services.
A new book, Men from the River Bends, honours Cobram-Barooga and district soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice after enlisting in World War 1.
Deniliquin bowler Dennis O'Keefe lost 25-19 in his bid for a quarter-final spot in the Victorian Singles Championships this week.
Widespread rain late last week and on Saturday put a smile on the faces of farmers preparing to sow crops or waiting for weeds to emerge on early-sown rye-grass.
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