Wet weather swamps farms

December 06, 2017

The weekend’s deluge brought with it a first for Conargo landholder Colin Bull, who watched his sheep being herded by ‘doggy paddle’.

A deluge of around 120mm was recorded at the family’s ‘Oakville’ property 40km north of Conargo from Thursday to Monday.

It was among the heaviest falls in the region, but there were many others of more than 70mm.

Mr Bull said some parts of his property received around 100mm.

He said this was on top of about 70mm from storms a week earlier, and they ended up with ‘‘absolute water frontage everywhere’’.

‘‘We were trying to move some sheep to higher ground and as they were swimming out the dog was swimming behind them ... I had never seen that before,’’ Mr Bull said.

‘‘There’s a normally dry creek next to the house and when the water came down, it went over the top of the bank.

‘‘We did get some of the heaviest rain in the district but the water is dropping reasonably quickly now,’’ he said yesterday morning.

‘‘Access to the house is still limited, but provided we don’t receive any more significant rain the surface water should drain away pretty well.

‘‘The forecasts can be notoriously unreliable so we didn’t do any preparations before the rain hit, but we did draw up a plan so we knew what to do if the weather did deliver as much as forecast.’’

That plan, and having recycling pumps on hand, has hopefully saved the winter crops still in the ground at ‘Oakville’, Mr Bull said.

‘‘The unharvested crops were inundated but we got the water off the bulk of the paddocks pretty quickly.

‘‘The barley was only one day away from harvest, but it should be okay. We just have to wait for it to dry out a bit to get the harvester on there.

‘‘The chickpeas were still a little green so they should be okay too.

‘‘The rain is really good for the summer crops though, with everything sown and growing it’s only really had a positive impact.’’

As predicted by the State Emergency Service last week, Deniliquin appeared to remain on the fringes of the severe weather event that hit Echuca and other areas of northern Victoria and the Riverina.

The local area is believed to have only suffered minimal localised flooding, including an overflow of the town lagoon system into the parks that surround them.

At its Deniliquin Airport weather station, the Bureau of Meteorology recorded a total rainfall on 63.2mm since Thursday night, with the bulk — 47.4mm — falling between 9am Friday and 9am Saturday. Some locals recorded higher falls.

There were some reports however of more than 80mm collected in rain gauges in north Deniliquin and in central Deniliquin, and 70mm and more in east and west Deniliquin.

In the Wandook Rd and Aratula Rd areas there were reports of farmers receiving close to 100mm across Friday and Saturday.

Deniliquin Elders Rural Services agronomist Adam Dellwo said the challenge now for farmers over summer is to ensure adequate weed control.

‘‘The rain would have been very handy for sown summer crops, but summer weeds can threaten to take a lot of that moisture away,’’ Mr Dellwo said.

‘‘The amount of rain received will half fill the profile for next year, and I expect there will be a lot of overhead sprays out trying to get those weeds under control now.’’

As for winter crops, Mr Dellwo says farmers are likely to see a downgrade in their product.

‘‘Farmers have been working long hours before this rain event to get harvest out of the way, but I imagine a fair bit of the unharvested wheat will be looking at a potential downgrade.

‘‘They would have lost weight and protein (in the crop), so that will affect quality.

‘‘The shot and sprung (issues) will not occur unless we get another rain event though.’’

More rain is predicted each day for the rest of the week, but with less than 1mm predicted for most days.

Thursday could bring with it a little more however, with between 5mm and 10mm predicted.

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