Farmers predict rain wth hairy caterpillars
Toodyay Agricultural Alliance
By Frank Panizza and Georgie Troup
A MIXED bag would be the best description of the recent activity on local broadacre farms.
The usual crop preparation stubble burn offs (left) and supplementary feeding of livestock have been occupying our local farmers.
Heavy rainfall and hail have been a blessing for some and a curse for others.Read more
Hail, though isolated, has caused damage to cars and buildings and has also stripped leaves from trees and flattened any remaining summer feed.
In eastern parts of the shire, particularly in the Nunile area, rainfall recordings have been as high as 40mm but, typical of summer storms, the rainfall has been patchy with areas only a few kilometres away recording falls of less than 5mm.
The timing of the start of winter rains has been a subject of conjecture for millennia – a subject that has been of interest to farmers like myself for as long as I can remember.
Age-old beliefs about signs in the natural world indicating a change to winter rains vary widely.
A common theme in the Toodyay area is the re-start of creek flows that have been dry in summer and the inevitable increase in frog calling resulting from increased water flows.
Bolgart local identity Brian McGill, ‘Ned’ to all and sundry, subscribes to the leaf-drop-from-apricot-trees theory, commenting to me recently that until all the apricot leaves have dropped, the season is still a way off.
My personal favourite is the ‘hairy caterpillar’ trails.
These native Australian caterpillars, also known as the Processionary Caterpillar, move about in autumn to feed on mostly Acacia trees and shrubs.
It is thought that an increase in sightings of caterpillar trails is indicative of a start to the winter rainfall season.
Milling oat grain trials
THE DEPARTMENT of Primary Industries and Regional Development grains research team has been busy working in the Nunile area in April, sowing milling oat grain trials.
The trials are supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and will provide local growers with information on the best oat varieties to grow and the optimal nutrition strategies for each of them.
Oats, like many other grains grown on farms, can have different requirements for their management between the varieties.
The milling oats grown by Toodyay farmers are used both domestically and exported.
Once the oats are harvested from the paddock they are then cleaned, kiln-dried and rolled.
The majority of the oats grown in WA are then exported to Asia.
Milling oat varieties are grown for human consumption, because they have nutritional qualities that make them beneficial to our diet.
You will find oats in your muesli bars and porridge, and more recently supermarkets stock oat milk and oat rice which all could have been grown in Toodyay.
Feed oats are often grown from different varieties which have nutritional qualities that make them more suitable for animal consumption.