Rain fails to fall on plains

Farmers are struggling across Bogan Shire and much of the state’s far west following a cold and dry start to winter.

Just 43.4 millimetres of rain has fallen at Nyngan since April 1 2017, according Bureau of Meteorology measurements recorded at Nyngan Airport, compared to a total of 184 mm during June and July of 2016.

Last year’s precipitation was above the July average of 29.4 mm, while the June 2016 rainfall (150 mm) set a new record for the month.

Across central western NSW and the north-west plains, the Department of Primary Industries predicts up to 30 per cent of the planned winter program has not been sown due to lack of rainfall.

Bogan Shire mayor Ray Donald said the crops that had been sown were patchy, and a far cry from 2016’s bumper crop.

“Unfortunately I think we may have got a bit of this year’s rain last year,” councillor Donald said.

“A lot [of crops] have been sown on minimal moisture and many haven’t come up because of that.

“There hasn’t been a good, general lot of rainfall during April so everyone could sow on good subsoil like last year.”

Frosty conditions have also been working against landholders, with Nyngan on track for a far colder than average July.

Minimum temperatures drop to 2 degrees or below for an average of 9.4 days in July, according to records dating back to 1920.

But in July 2017, the minimum has already dropped below 2 degrees on 10 occasions.

“It certainly hasn’t been ideal and it’s pretty much too late now to do any sowing of anything like wheat or barley,” councillor Donald said.

“On the stock side things are getting very dry … I think people would have been hand-feeding for a while now.

“[Rainfall] will help some crops that have held on, but anything that’s just germinating or not yet germinated, it’s too late.

“Things can respond very quickly if we got good rain despite the cold weather, but at the moment they’re not predicting anything likely to come.”