Autumn rainfall turns the countryside green

Sheep returned to grazing on lucerne, a very welcome sight after three years of drought and stock feeding.
Sheep returned to grazing on lucerne, a very welcome sight after three years of drought and stock feeding.

It's been an incredibly busy three months in agriculture.

Autumn delivered inches of rain to the district, setting the scene for a cropping season that we hope will be a very welcome change from the past three years.

Forbes airport recorded 274.4mm - or nearly 11 inches - of rain from March to May.

There's been a further inch (28.6mm) of rain to top that up in June, with cool and damp conditions last week, bringing Forbes' total rainfall for the first six months of the year to 424mm.

That's some eight times the rainfall of the previous six months, with Forbes airport recording just 52.8mm (or two inches) for July to December 2019.

It's already well and truly passed annual rainfall totals for 2018 (320.4mm) and 2019 (236mm).

AgriWest agronomist Tom Macleay says February rains birthed "a quiet confidence" that this could be the end of three tough, dry years.

The area he travels for work now looks uniformly green.

"If anything the grazing crops are growing too quickly," he said.

Elders agronomist Adam Pearce says the rainfall and mild conditions are seeing crops grow rapidly - and the mood has certainly shifted for the better.

In fact, many will be looking for a window to get out onto their crop paddocks in this warmer, drier week.

Weed management and crop nutrition are key at this stage, Mr Pearce said.

"These crops are pretty well set for moisture, they'll just want a couple more falls," he said.

Both encourage farmers to talk to their agronomist about how to best maximise their return on investment in their crops this year.

It's a critical time for seizing the opportunities that will help take advantage of this season.

"At the moment the biggest thing we are looking at is helping make really smart decisions," Macleay said.

"Ask those questions, push the envelope."

One of the options for those grazing crops that are growing faster than your stock can eat them, for example, is to make silage.

Others might be able to offer agistment to stock from areas still in drought.

Overall, it's wonderful to see the countryside green and a return of stock grazing the paddocks around Forbes.