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Rain a welcome sight

Southern Riverina soaked in best autumn break since 2003

SOPHIE BURGE April 16, 2014 3:55am

Last week’s soaking rain was a gift from above for the local region, with the autumn break one of the best seen in the southern Riverina for more than a decade.

Although the downpour did halt rice harvesting for a couple of days, it was a small price to pay as farmers can now prepare with confidence for what is shaping up as an excellent winter cropping season.

Finley agricultural consultant and agronomist John Lacy said he measured 73.5mm in Finley last week, saying the timing and soaking nature of the rain made it the best autumn break in many years.

Finley farmer Jack Hawkins, who recorded 60mm at his property, said although the rain brought with it a few challenges for the rice harvest, he said the ‘‘good definitely outweighs the bad’’.

‘‘It means I’ve now got a good soil moisture profile which will be very good for the winter cropping program.

‘‘Any irrigated pastures and livestock production have also benefited significantly from the last two falls. I could safely say I won’t be using any more irrigation water, so more than 10 per cent of that water will be carried over (to next season).’’

The official Bureau of Meteorology site located at Tocumwal Airport recorded 77.8mm of rain since last Wednesday, taking April’s total to 91.8mm. Last year Tocumwal only received 4.7mm in April.

Finley’s rainfall records show it was the best April drop in a decade, with 51mm recorded in 2003 and 46mm in 1998, while Berrigan’s April records show it had 44mm in 2006 and 88mm in 1998.

Gordon and Phyllis Ball said they recorded 49 ‘‘very nice’’ millimetres of rain on their Mayrung property, which they said sets them up for a great winter cropping program.

Donald Henderson from Blighty got 52mm, while local farmer Andrew Burge, off the Lower Tocumwal Rd, recorded 70mm in his rain gauge.

Mr Lacy said water saved or bought for watering up canola and pre-irrigating wheat, barley and faba beans can now be carried over into next watering season.

‘‘If the weather is not too drying there should still be good sowing moisture for wheat starting from April 25.

‘‘It’s great to have some subsoil moisture but I suspect it may not be deeper than the 45cm we had last year, depending on how much rain you had, so further rain in early to mid May would be a great follow up to get us through winter.

‘‘There’s a great opportunity to get canola sowing out of the way and then get back to rice harvest ... three weeks of dry weather would be great.’’

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