Farmers’ spirits have been lifted after big rains finally arrived across much of the Wheatbelt, providing a desperately needed drink for about 12 million hectares of pastures and recently sown crops.
The soaking downpour — considered the 2019 season’s opening rains — came after the driest January to May across the agriculture region since Weather Bureau records began in 1900.
Rain reaching 36mm was recorded in Dongara, 20mm in Moora, 12mm in Mullewa, 14mm in Wongan Hills, 10mm in Merredin and 19mm in Narrogin, to 9am yesterday, while a series of fronts are expected to continue delivering lighter rain to many areas over the weekend.
Some areas missed out on the drenching, including Ravensthorpe, where a pocket had recently been declared water deficient by the State Government, along with parts of Lake Grace and the Kent shires.
Lake Grace got 6mm to 9am yesterday and Newdegate just 4mm.
A Ravensthorpe farmer, who asked not to be named, said his area got less than 4mm, but 50mm to 100mm was needed to fill dams that had run dry.
Australian Association of Agricultural Consultants WA president Tim Johnston said, besides some pockets, rain was reasonably widespread across the agricultural region and there was huge relief from farmers, who were feeling optimistic the downpour would put crop and pasture growth back on track.
“Farmers were starting to get very concerned, but this rain has really turned the mood back to being positive for most,” he said.
“I’ve been hearing from a lot of happy clients, the mood is really optimistic again. Many areas have already had over 20mm and it appears there’s a number of fronts so hopefully the systems keep running for the next few days.”
Mr Johnston said the big downpour would go a long way towards building up subsoil moisture, which had reached extremely low levels after a lack of rain during summer.
The wet weather also settled dust after strong winds in the lead-up to the rain.
Jeremy and Jemma Mills, who farm near Mullewa in the Mid West, got 14mm as of midday yesterday, and light rain was still coming.
Mr Mills said he was confident it would be enough rain to help his 2000ha crop germinate. He expects to finish seeding next week.
Grain Industry Association of WA spokesman Michael Lamond said about 90 per cent of the State’s crop was now in the ground.