Waiting game for the rain

Farmers on the Lower Eyre Peninsula are still waiting for a decent opening rain to nourish their crops and feed their stock after having the driest six month period since January on record. 

DRY: Farmer Dion Lebrun waits for rain in one of his barley fields with agronomist Luke Wilkins, he says the last six months have been his driest open to the season on record.

DRY: Farmer Dion Lebrun waits for rain in one of his barley fields with agronomist Luke Wilkins, he says the last six months have been his driest open to the season on record.

Farming 17 kilometres from Tumby Bay, farmer Dion LeBrun said the previous six months had been the “driest on record.”

Mr LeBrun said 2017 was considered a dry start for the first six months and the region had received about 80 millimetres of rain during that time.

“We’re lucky to have had 60 millimetres of rain (this year),” Mr LeBrun said.

“We’d expect 100 millimetres by now, including some summer rain.”

Bawden's Rural Supplies Tumby Bay agronomist Luke Wilkins said farmers in the region had received about 15 to 60 millimetres of rain since May.

“For those that have seeded, about 80 per cent of their crops are out of the ground,” Mr Wilkins said.

“At this point, 100 per cent is ideal.”

Mr LeBrun said he had made allowances for less rainfall in his crop planning this year.

Usually consisting of about seven to eight per cent of his crop, Mr LeBrun said he was not growing any beans this year.

He also reduced his canola acreage and planted barley instead, which he said would be the best crop “if it does get really tough.”

“I’ve really dropped canola out...it’s been a third of my crop in the past,” Mr LeBrun said. 

The lack of available pasture due to dry conditions has also increased the amount of feed handling for farmers, who could be spending up to three or four hours a day hand feeding their livestock.

Mr LeBrun said many farmers had been hand feeding their livestock for six weeks and people’s fodder reserves were “dwindled.”

Mr Wilkins said some big decisions for farmers were ahead if the predicted rain did not come to fruition.

“Most farmers are pretty relaxed...if it (rain) doesn’t happen within 10 days farmers will start really looking at the skies,” Mr Wilkins said.