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.
Two Benalla police officers spent yesterday getting to know Shepparton on bicycles to create a visible police presence in the town.
The Yarrawonga Chronicle and Travel and Cruise Yarrawonga are offering shoppers a chance to win an incredible cruise package this summer.
Last week Victorian Collections passed a major milestone, with the 50000th historical object record from the state’s heritage collections uploaded to the site.
Another slow start has hurt the Echuca-Moama Pirates in the Country Basketball League north-east conference, going down to Wallan.
Rachel Boyle made a milestone blood donation, the 1000th, on behalf of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.
Fourteen parties and 37 candidates will contest the Northern Victoria Region for the Victorian upper house at the November 29 election, with the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) claiming the top billing on the ballot paper.
Playgroup of the Month for November.
Andrew Richardson and Matt Jackson have been appointed co-coaches of Finley's senior football side.
Two new Neighbourhood Safer Places for the Pyalong and Tooborac communities have been announced.
Roadworks begin for new roundabout, but authorities assure shoppers, motorists and businesses of minimal disruption.
Convicted Mathoura murderer expected to apply for release.
Fruit Growers Victoria Limited has announced its long-serving general manager will leave the organisation at the end of December.
Scott Upston had a decorated career as a paralympic coach before moving to Benalla this year.
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