POLL: Desperate for rains

Bourke farmers fear for financial security

Coonamble farmers fear no winter crops

Drought is still crippling the region and the lack of rain is threatening planting and survival of winter crops worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Despite recent good rainfalls in Dubbo and nearby districts, major parts of the Orana region are still bone dry.

Besides serious water shortages, farmers face major challenges like an inability to feed livestock on their properties, the need to provide feed at high costs, and a lack of money to pay bills accumulated since the drought bit about two years ago.

John Walkom, chairman of the Regional Development Association (RDA) Orana said yesterday areas in the north west were desperate for rain.

"Areas to the north west of Walgett haven't been fortunate enough to have those good conditions like regions in the south and the east," he said.

"The regions of Brewarrina and Walgett are so dry. They're desperately looking for rain," he said.

In areas that have winter cropping, farmers surveyed by the Daily Liberal were concerned by the on-going water crisis and its possible effects on planting and harvests. In some areas, there were doubts there would be viable winter crops without significant rainfalls.

Asked what winter crop failures could cost the region, Mr Walkom said if there were no winter crops, farmers in the Orana region could possibly lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

Agronomist Denielle Kilby from Landmark Walgett said farmers in the district had not received enough rainfall so far this year.

"There were a few falls in the area of up to 125 mm and a few farmers planted on that limited moisture." she said.

Ms Kilby said unless there was good rainfall in the near future, a winter crop was less than likely.

"Unless we have a significant amount of rain in the next four to six weeks the chances of us having a winter plant just keep getting smaller and smaller."

But some farmers have been given hope by recent rain.

Mr Walkom said: "t has certainly laid the foundation for a good season. It is just a matter of continuing those crops."

Coonamble had been lifted by recent rains and farmers there were looking to start planting, he said.

"They will need follow-up rain, but it is looking promising," he said.

Mr Matt Landsey, an agronomist with Dubbo DeltaAg, said rains had given Dubbo farmers a good start to the season.

"We've had a better start to the season than previous years,"he said. "hopefully it continues."

"Everything is always hinging on rain. But some parts of the area have had 325 mm since the beginning of the year so they've got plenty of moisture."

Mr Landsey said late showers in Spring would give farmers in the region a decent crop.

"Hopefully this dry change holds off and we receive a couple of late showers in Spring, we should have a decent crop." he said.

Mr Walkom said backup rain would allow farmers to put in crops.

"They'll be able to get some crops in. But we need to get backup seasonal rain so that they are then able to harvest the crops."

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