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    Murra Warra farmer and VFF president David Jochinke.

AgLife: Results show island in sea of drought

By DEAN LAWSON

December rain more than 12 months ago, a ‘relatively gentle’ 2019 spring and farmer adaptability and planning has underpinned one of the best overall Wimmera and southern Mallee harvests in years.

A similar summary also applies to the Western District to the south, where farmers are still finishing off the last of late-maturing crops.

A favourable mid and south-western Victorian harvest represents an isolated thumbnail on an Australia-
wide dryland farming map otherwise smeared with the devastation of drought.



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Victorian Farmers Federation president and Wimmera farmer David Jochinke said western Victoria, as a result, would this year be the primary provider of grain and fodder needs for the country’s eastern seaboard.

“When you look at it from a macro level, almost all grain and fodder required for the east coast of Australia this year will be coming out of Victoria,” he said.

“A high percentage from the Wimmera and southern Mallee has already been sent and that will be followed up by the Western District.”

Mr Jochinke said with north-west Victoria and other dryland cropping regions across Australia crippled by drought, the Wimmera had done extremely well in comparison.

“While it has again to some extent been a bit of a tale of two sides of the Great Dividing Range, anyone who managed to snag some of that rain either side back in December 2018, and got their timing right, has generally done well,” he said.

“Even though at the time it was a bit of a curse because of harvesting, it provided an opening for some farmers to have solid average to above-average
crops, despite overall having a below-
average rain season, even in the south.

“It appears anywhere people got crops in on top of that moisture and-or managed to use circumstances to feed their crops – anyone who got that right, especially north of the divide – has done well. 

“No farm north of the ranges got average rain, but some had ripper crops based on timing and where the rain fell. In the Wimmera, if we didn’t have that 2018 December rain we would have been in strife and be telling a different story. 

“We also had a mild spring with minimal impact from frost, that also helped.”

Mr Jochinke added that results amid a lack of extensive rain also reflected how modern farming practices in the region were at the cutting edge in understanding and responding to a variable and ever-changing climate. “It shows off techniques the modern farmer is using to make the most of every opportunity to use every drop of moisture available,” he said.

“It’s a real credit to how we’ve adopted modern technology and gained an understanding and how we can adapt.

“Overall for many there’s been a sigh of relief in that we’ve managed to have a decent season that will hopefully flow through regional communities.

“We are an ag-based sector and when farmers have a good year our communities have a good year as well.

“In the two previous years many crops in the region were smashed by frost and this now gives many a chance to get a bit of breathing space and catch up a bit. 

“And there is also the confidence to adequately fund the upcoming season as well.”

The entire January 29, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire January 29,, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!