Deluge brings NSW agriculture mixed outcomes

Posted 29 September 2016

Rain and storm over farmNew South Wales has waded through the wettest August in 13 years and rainfall may well continue, bringing some agricultural producers adverse results.

In areas of the state's Northern Tablelands, north coast and the Hunter Valley, more than 100-200mm was recorded.

The Central West, Central and Southern Tablelands, Riverina, far south and North West received between 50-100mm.

Across the entire state, August rainfall was above average, said NSW Department of Primary Industries Seasonal Conditions Coordinator Ian McGowen.

“77% of NSW received wetter than normal conditions” he said.

Exceptions were across areas of the state's south east.

Looking ahead, the DPI has tipped the months leading up to November will also be wetter than normal.

“A survey of the major climate models in early September indicated just over 70% favour a wetter than normal rainfall outlook for September to November,” the DPI report stated.

In September, wet conditions across southern areas of the central west, western areas of the Riverina, and parts of the far west are expected to result in September averages being higher than normal.

DPI Water's Manager Surface Water Brian Graham said the rain bands that continued to track regularly across NSW were producing strong runoff, storage improvements and increased water allocations.

“High priority entitlements across the state’s regulated river valleys have received full or near full allocations, and allocations to general security licences are improving from a generally low start to the year,” he said.

The continuing wet weather has had a mixed impacts on crop and pasture growth.

“The early sown winter crops continue to show the best potential, with yields in better-drained areas or on lighter soils likely to be average to above average,” said McGowen.

“In some areas of the Central West and Riverina, crop losses from 10-30% of sown area to complete crop failure have occurred. Pulse crops have been worst affected.

“The wet conditions have greatly increased crop disease problems such as yellow leaf spot and stripe rust in wheat and net blotch and bacterial stripe in barley.

McGowen said pulse crop diseases, such as Ascochyta blight and Botrytis grey mould, were also significant threats.

Stock conditions meanwhile have remained reasonably positive, with supplementary feeding declining as pasture growth improved.

“The wet conditions have contributed to issues with foot scald, bloat and increased worm burdens for livestock producers,” McGowen said.

The Bureau of Meteorology's rainfall outlook can be explored here.