Send it down, Hughie: Forecasts say it's coming - and don't we need it

HOPING FOR SUBSTANTIAL RAIN: Brendon Warnock, of Maules Creek, was the recipient of the AgriRisk High Achiever of the Year award at last week’s 2014 Australian Cotton Industry Awards.

HOPING FOR SUBSTANTIAL RAIN: Brendon Warnock, of Maules Creek, was the recipient of the AgriRisk High Achiever of the Year award at last week’s 2014 Australian Cotton Industry Awards.

WEATHER watchers are waiting anxiously as the best chance of some decent rain for a long time gets closer, with forecasters predicting a weekend of rainfall that could bring up to 30mm.

It’s been a long time and it’s sadly ironic that the north is so excited about a rain event which promises just over an inch if it hits the ground as expected.

Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Agata Imielska said yesterday she expected the best chance of rain to be Saturday, with between 20mm and 30mm expected over the two days.

“It may even be more than that. I think the key for this event is to keep an eye out, because we’ll know better when it gets closer,” Ms Imielska said.

So far this year, Tamworth has recorded 224.6mm of rain – against our average annual rainfall of 629mm.

“In general, that area is 40 to 60 per cent below-average rainfall for the year,” Ms Imielska said.

Moree’s annual average rainfall is 599mm; so far this year it has received 187.6mm.

In Narrabri, only 299.4mm has fallen so far but its average annual rainfall is 567.5mm. 

“It has been very dry,” Ms Imielska said.

“The last 12 months to the end of July, the north-east area (of NSW, including the North West Slopes and Plains) is the second driest on record.

“It’s astounding how quickly dry conditions returned after all the rain we had in 2010-12.”

Across Tamworth, many landowners hope weekend rain will stave off stock sell-offs because of a lack of fodder and boost some new growth as days warm up towards spring.

In Tamworth, it might also boost town-water users who are facing tough new water rules within a couple of weeks. 

Brendon Warnock, of Warnock Agronomics, who, with dad Jack and mum Jacqui, owns two properties – Warilea and Curra – 25km south-east Maules Creek, said although his wheat was looking “fabulous” at the moment, rain would be welcome. 

“It’s in very good condition, but we just need a nice spring to get that establishment of yield to go into grain,” Mr Warnock said.

Mr Warnock was the recipient of the AgriRisk High Achiever of the Year award at last week’s 2014 Australian Cotton Industry Awards.

“All up, we manage 1260 hectares – cotton and wheat and mung beans – and we’ll try growing corn this summer,” he said.

“A lot of our wheat was planted behind the cotton crop, so (on) very little sub-soil moisture.

“The wheat crop is a very resilient crop ... it can make grain out of very little moisture ... but if we were lucky enough to get 50mm, it would really change things ... it would set us up really nicely.”

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