The rain falls ahead of spring

Gunnedah district farmers can look forward to a promising harvest after the heavens opened to dump up to 95mm of rain in some areas.

It was perfect timing after an earlier fall 10 days ago, when growers received a much-needed 20-40mm.

The biggest downpour on Tuesday and Wednesday this week was around Goolhi where there was up to 95mm of rain and some hail, while parts near Boggabri recorded 55mm.

Areas around Emerald Hill saw falls of more than 30mm, Gunnedah 28.4mm, Carroll 15.5mm, Tambar Springs 15mm and Breeza 13mm.

Warren Hobson recorded 90mm on the property “Quia”, between Boggabri and Mullaley on the Gunnedah side of Grain Valley Road. It was very patchy, with the house gauge showing 57mm just 2.5km away.

“It’s real handy,” Warren said.

“It will give everything a big lift.

“Most of the crops received a big drink out of it and we’ve certainly got the base there now for a crop this year.”

Closer to Gunnedah, the Loveridges at Emerald Hill received 35mm.

“It was quite a surprise,” Peter Loveridge said.

“It will delay us irrigating [durum wheat] for a few weeks and save us some time and money in the short term.”

On the NVI Facebook page, Geoff Dawson wrote: “33mm at the Skinny Lizard Longhorn Ranch at Emerald Hill”. Susanne Riley recorded 55mm just out of Boggabri on the Gunnedah side, while Phil Glover posted he had 32mm out on Orange Grove Road.

Areas on the Liverpool Plains like Bundella and Premer looked to have missed out on the big falls – unable to snatch a mere 10mm.

The downpour, however, arrived just in time to boost crops like wheat, barely and canola that in some cases were beginning to show signs of stress.

“It’s perfect rain. The crops have definitely turned a corner,” Gunnedah Pursehouse agronomist Matt Roseby said.

“It’s going to mean we’re going to get at least average yields now.

“A lot of paddocks were looking at not achieving average yields or even getting the header out so hopefully we’ll get some more follow-up rain.”

With spring arriving on Monday and the weather starting to warm up, the rain could not have been better timed.

“As it’s warming up, the crops will begin to mature and they are going through a high water use phase,” Mr Roseby said.

“As they’re maturing they’re looking for moisture so it’s ideal rain for that.

“We’ve got legumes and canola that’s starting to fill grain so it’s perfect for that.”

Those farmers that received around 90mm should now make it through to harvest, while others that recorded 30-40mm or less would benefit from more follow-up rain in 10 days time.

This week’s falls will be a definite boost for the soil moisture profile for farmers looking to plant summer crops like sunflowers and corn in the next 3-4 weeks.

While growers are rejoicing, the rain hasn’t really had an impact on bushfire conditions in the lead-up to the summer season.

The bushfire danger period will still come into force on Monday.

“It will hold things back for a few weeks which in some ways is good, but in other ways it is holding back our hazard reduction burns as well,” Liverpool Range Zone Rural Fire Service (RFS) Operations Officer, Mark Murphy said.

“We’ll never knock the rain back where we can get it, but we really haven’t had enough to help with groundwater. There’s still very short supplies.”

The RFS is still trying to carry out hazard reduction burns before the bushfire danger season start on Monday and could even go into October if the conditions are right.

Landholders are also being reminded that they can still burn but will need a permit from next week.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a slight chance of a shower for Gunnedah next Tuesday. The longer term outlook for spring is there are equal chances of getting above or below average rainfall.

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