DAIRY farmers are hoping near-record rainfall this month will set them up for a good spring and help reverse the industry’s tough times.
Farmer Power spokesman Jock O’Keefe, of Winslow, said the present inundation of paddocks was “a short-term nuisance” and should help lay the groundwork for good pasture growth in spring.
However, Mr O’Keefe said it was rain in October and November that was critical to getting good feed outcomes.
Michael Boyd, the Warrnambool-based feeding systems project leader for the Department of Primary Industries and Environment, said farmers “make more money from mud than dust” and having good soil moisture at this time of year was important.
However, he said severe waterlogging of paddocks in the Hamilton area was causing problems for canola and cereal crops.
He said heavy rain this month could also delay the cutting of silage which usually begins in two to three weeks’ time because paddocks were too wet for machinery.
August is shaping up as a record month for rainfall in the south-west, with one record already broken and others threatened.
Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Peter Blake said Portland had received 256 millimetres of rain to 9am yesterday — well ahead of the previous August record set in 1895 of 227mm and the August average of 106mm.
Port Fairy has received 185mm so far this month, topping the August total of 163mm received in 2010 and far exceeding the town’s average August rainfall of 88mm.
Warrnambool has so far received 162mm this month, below the 204mm it received in 2001 but far exceeding its August average of 99mm.
Hamilton has had 103mm, again below 2001’s 139mm but well up on its average of 79mm.
The Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority (GHCMA) is monitoring flood warning systems throughout the region with the focus yesterday being on minor flooding of the Fitzroy River in the Heywood area.
GHCMA statutory program manager Brad Henderson said no major rain was forecast for this weekend to exacerbate the flood situation.
Mr Henderson said each day during the past week had brought another 5-10mm of rain across much of the region.
“We have seen Wattle Hill Creek in Portland, Russells Creek in Warrnambool and the Fitzroy River all fluctuate over recent days and the main thing for people to remember is not to walk, ride or drive through floodwater and report any flooding to VICSES on 132 500,” he said.
While there was no immediate problem, Mr Henderson said flooding would remain a concern for the south-west with the weather forecast for the next two to three months and predictions of a 60-70 per cent chance of above-average rainfall.