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Gunnedah district records rainfall above 100mm, lodging crops, flooding fields

Monday November 8, 2021 - 02:44 AEDT
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Stephen Gibson had just planted sorghum before his farm received an unexpected 100mm of rainfall. - ABC

Predictions of above-average rainfall have proved true recently, and an overnight drenching in the district of Gunnedah, in north-western New South Wales, saw farmers and residents waking to rain gauges with more than 100 millimetres in them.

Some parts of the district saw falls of up to 130mm overnight. 

Local agronomist and nearby Boggabri farmer Robert Weinthal surveyed the impacts of some of the big falls this morning. 

He said the largest falls would delay the start to harvest and had left some crops lodged, or bent over. 

While harvesting is well underway in the North West, the Liverpool Plains region is still a couple of weeks away from harvesting.

"The big concern is very much the winter harvest," Mr Weinthal said.

"Without any further rainfall we could be anything up to seven to 10 days [behind].

"If we have further rain it could prolong everything even further again."  

Paddocks flooded 

Stephen Gibson farms between Breeza and Carroll, not too far from Gunnedah. 

His property received 100mm overnight, with the huge downpour flooding two paddocks where he had just planted some summer crops. 

"The ducks and the swans haven't turned up yet but they're coming," Mr Gibson said.

"We finished planting sorghum yesterday afternoon ? it's got about eight inches of water on it.

"It will be drowned and it might dry up early December, but it will be pretty late in the window and there's nothing saying that with the La Nina potentially coming it won't happen again."

Rather than risk replanting sorghum in those paddocks, Mr Gibson will leave the paddocks fallow through to next year and then plant wheat.

But he said it was not all bad news, and his wheat crop appreciated the extra rainfall ahead of harvest next month.

"This rain will top them off and it will be a quite respectable crop for the conditions we planted into," he said.

Grain quality concerns

Further north around areas like Gravesend and Warialda, averages of 25mm to 50mm were seen.

Ardina Jackson, an agronomist and consultant based near Warialda, said while harvest would be delayed, grain quality was the main concern for growers trying to harvest crops throughout the North West region.

Picking up lodged crops adds extra days to harvest once the ground is dry enough to start harvesting again.

"The longer it [the crop] is in the paddock, the worse the grain quality will be," she said.

"People are keen to get back in the paddock."

However, Ms Jackson said the rain was good news for some crops that had just been planted.

"They [growers] are excited about the summer crop, but just very nervous about getting these record yields off."


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