Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Best start in years

Last week’s rain was welcomed by farmers across the Goulburn Valley, with Undera dairy farmer Geoff Holmes saying it was like winning the lottery.

LAURA GRIFFIN April 14, 2014 11:00pm

Geoff Holmes was very happy with the amount of rain that he had out on his property at Undera. Picture4: Bianca Mibus

Last week’s rain was welcomed by farmers across the Goulburn Valley, with Undera dairy farmer Geoff Holmes saying it was like winning the lottery.

He said the 78mm of rain that fell on his farm in the three days leading to Friday morning was wonderful.

‘‘I was going to start irrigating annual pastures the morning the rain started, but I cancelled the order and it saved me about $4000 on water,’’ Mr Holmes, who milks between 120 and 130 cows on 73ha, said.

He said neither he nor his neighbours could remember the last time they had such a good autumn break.

By 8am on Friday, Wahring mixed farmer Francis Deane’s rain gauge read 83mm.

He said constant rain during three days was ‘‘ideal soaking rain’’.

A man who came out to do a soil test on Mr Deane’s farm on Friday morning measured soil moisture to 300mm.

‘‘It’s a great start to autumn and winter pasture growth. I was chasing sheep in the paddocks and clover has shot up everywhere.’’

The rain has given Mr Deane confidence he will sow crops into moisture and he plans to sow about 40ha of grazing wheat in the next week.

Burramine crop farmer Peter Lawless agreed it was a fantastic start to the season.

‘‘It’s the best start we’ve had in more than a decade,’’ Mr Lawless said.

He may put off sowing about 1000ha of crops until weeds grow.

He said the moisture would see many crop farmers through to early May.

At farms in and around Elmore, 47mm to 57mm of rain was measured, Darren Trewick said.

The mixed farmer said the rain was fantastic and would allow him to start sowing oats into lucerne stands and maybe clover and rye grass into pasture next week for his 700 breeding ewes.

Fortuitous timing means he will get dryland crops including canola, wheat, barley, oats and chickpeas sown into moisture.

‘‘It gives a chance to spray weeds once or maybe even twice before sowing, so hopefully we won’t have to spray as much in crop.’’

Landmark Elmore agronomist Greg Toomey was going around farms in the Bonn area north-east of Elmore testing water penetration with a spear-pointed metal probe. He said the probe slipped through moist soil and in some paddocks it was going down at least 60cm to 90cm.

‘‘We would expect percolation of moisture to continue, which is a spectacularly good start for the season,’’ Mr Toomey said.

‘‘It’s the best start since 1993, maybe even since 1983.’’

Goomalibee Angus cow breeder Murray Chapman agreed it was one of the best autumn breaks for about 25 years.

He said the more than 60mm of rainfall measured provided greater security in dams for dryland areas and would allow people to sow crops early while soil was quite warm, rather than risk dry sowing.

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