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    Ryan Milgate.

Farmers hope for dry harvest

By Nick Ridley

Wimmera-Mallee farmers are desperate for rain predicted during the next few months to hold off until they complete a busy harvest. 

Harvest is underway across the region amid Bureau of Meteorology predictions of a wetter-than-average summer. 

Damp spring conditions have already produced more than 100 millimetres of rain in some areas of the Wimmera catchment. 

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Minyip-Donald broadacre farmer Ryan Milgate said due to the heavy amount of rain during spring, harvesting was taking longer than usual to complete.

“Three weeks ago, the lentils were enjoying the rain. Currently, nothing really enjoys the rain, even the farmers,” he said.  

Mr Milgate said he was otherwise happy with weather conditions so far.

He said considering about how the rain would affect his crops was thinking too far into the future.

He added that heavy rain after harvest, if it happened, would be more than welcome. 

“Excess rain for farmers is money in the bank and it will be incredibly profitable for us,” he said.

Bureau forecasters at the end of last month provided details about seasonal expectations that came with climatic conditions affecting Australia. 

The bureau has confirmed a La Niña weather system, associated with wet seasonal conditions for much of southeast Australia, is in place.  

Government authorities have noted the potential impact above-average rain might have on the landscape.

Wimmera Catchment Management Authority chief executive David Brennan said if heavy summer rain did occur, it would most likely happen during random storms.

He said while catchment waterways had experienced good flows during spring, much of Victoria’s total rain had fallen in other parts of the state.

“The impact of less rain in the Wimmera, compared with other parts of Victoria, has resulted in less run-off to our rivers and streams, wetlands and water storages,” he said.

“As always there is a chance a summer storm could increase water-storage levels across the region.”  

The bureau has announced summer would likely be warmer than average across Victoria, particularly in the state’s west.

Operational climate services head Dr Andrew Watkins said although the chances of severe bushfires this summer were low compared with other years, people should remain wary. 

“We need to be careful about fires, particularly across inland areas and in the southwest of the country,” he said.

The entire December 8, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!