The majority of NSW is under drought watch or drought onset, with little hope for autumn planting rains in the next few weeks.
A band of rain that fell on the weekend failed to add any hope for autumn plantings, with the central-west recording between 1-5mm.
Many farmers in the central-west were already “gun shy” after last year’s disappointing crops and frost damage, Dean Walton of Dubbo’s Walton Rural said.
On Sunday, about 1-5mm fell about the Dubbo-Wellington area, while at nearby Elong Elong there were some decent falls of up to 30mm in the rain band. There were also some good falls in the Mudgee district and some eastern parts of the south-west slopes.
Dean Walton said there would have to be falls of over 55mm in the central-west to give farmers any real sign to start planting, and there didn’t appear to be anything of that magnitude for the next two weeks.
He said the gap down from the top to subsoil moisture was between 20 to 30cm.
“After last year’s crops, everyone is gun shy at the moment,” he said.
The latest seasonal outlook from the Department of Primary Industries says “that the majority of the state is under Drought Watch or Drought Onset conditions”.
“Areas particularly affected include the Hunter, Greater Sydney, Central Tablelands and Central West Local Land Services regions. Parts of Western, North West, central Riverina and northern South East regions are also in Drought Onset.”
The new seasonal data is available on the DPI droughthub.
Western Local Land Services team leader agriculture Gemma Turnbull said many western graziers had been feeding stock since last November, some even longer.
Cottonseed was popular for stock about Bourke. Any recent rain in the area had been “hit and miss”.
Sheep were being fed everything from licks to molasses and mulga scrub.
“A lot of it is to do with availability,” Ms Turnbull said. “We are urging people to look at their feeding options objectively. You have to compare it as in apples for apples.”
Meanwhile, as seasonal conditions worsened in the central and western areas, one of the worst drought-hit areas in NSW, the area from Taree, through the Hunter down to the Illawarra, received a timely drenching. Some areas recorded more than 400mm last week.
The weak La Nina event was ending to be followed by a neutral weather period that favoured neither wetter or drier conditions.