Farmers pray for opening rains
By Frank Panizza Toodyay Agricultural Alliance
WAITING for rain – this appears to be the theme around the agricultural areas throughout our shire and most of the Wheatbelt.
Light rainfall was received by farmers and residents alike in April but the amount fell short of the monthly average.
Official records for Toodyay reveal that April rainfall on average is just over 25mm.
Most areas within the shire recorded 10mm or less.
Looking like a Martian lander at sunset, this local air seeder (above)
was used last month to plant a Nunile crop. Photo Frank Panizza.Read more
March rainfall was generally below average as well, however rainfall in the last week of February was above average.
Most farmers are all prepared and ready to start seeding programs.
Lime spreading and stubble burning duties are mostly complete.
Many livestock owners are still hand feeding sheep and cattle with no end to it in sight.
Lester Snooke, owner of Bolgart Rural Merchandise, commented recently that “most farmers are primed up and ready to go but most are standing on the sidelines to see what happens with the weather”.
He added “about 25 per cent of farmers have made a start on their 2020 seeding programs mostly seeding canola and lupins.
However, the rest have made a decision to sit it out until early May or until more promising signs of rain eventuate”.
Mr Snooke said that he expected canola programs to stay much the same as last year but expected a slight drift back towards wheat from barley due to grain prices.
Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions are still not having much effect on agriculture within our shire and within WA.
Intermittent delays due to social distancing and Covid-19 protocols are being experienced at some agricultural supplies outlets.
The delays appear to be an inconvenience more than a threat to productivity.
Covid-19 protocols have also affected the number of people who are able to attend livestock sales which has raised concerns about competition.
Some states within Australia have now adopted ‘computer selling’ of livestock via electronic means to overcome this issue.
There has been a general easing of sheep and wool values over the past few weeks.
Concerns over the impact of the coronavirus has added a cautious note to any buying of both commodities.
Seeding operations within our shire will be in full swing this month and in June which will result in increased movements of oversized agricultural machinery on our local roads.
All residents are urged to take extra care on the roads during this busy period while farmers transport equipment.