Every drop the difference for farmers

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser

It is no secret that it has been a dry start to the season, and for many of the farmers in the Wheatbelt and Great Southern areas, last week’s rainfall was a blessing from above.

When a cold front crossed over our State it bought scattered rainfall to the region — Albany received roughly 35mm for the week, areas around Wandering copped a massive 136mm, and almost 30mm fell around Jerramungup.

Although not as fortunate as some areas receiving an inch of rain, and a weekly total of only 5mm, farmer Jeremy Hitsert, 40km south of Gnowangerup near the Stirling ranges, spoke of the difference every little bit of rain makes to regional WA.

“Although we have only had 10mm for June now, that little bit of rain gets us through a bit longer,” he said.

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More than 60mm fell in Perth, and while grateful for the dampening on crops and pasture, Mr Hitsert said that without more rain where it is needed in regional WA, farmers’ livelihoods are far from safe.

“People need to be made aware that the rainfall is what it is all about when you’re a farmer down this way, or anywhere in the State, to move forward with your business,” he said.

Mr Hitsert runs a mixed sheep and cropping program, and finishing seeding just two weeks ago; a lot of his wheat went into some hard pasture paddocks.

“Got the paddocks in but they are just sitting there waiting for a rain — I don’t think much has really changed there, but it’s just waiting for a big front or hoping that the open of the season is going to take place, but it hasn’t yet,” he said.

It was a promising start to the year when rainfall of 100mm fell in areas of the Great Southern in February, but the State has since seen minimal rainfall and, until the end of May, Mr Hitsert said he had received just 143mm.

“That set things up but it didn’t follow on,” he said.

Many farms are presenting little or no pasture in paddocks, making feeding livestock an issue and, like many, Mr Hitsert has been buying lupins or additional food for animals.

“I just realise that I am going to be feeding a lot further into the year than previously planned,” he said. “Hopefully that will get me through to when there is going to be green feed.”

Small showers are forecast for the rest of the week in the region.

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