No "white flag" from Cowra farmers

While farmers in many parts of the state are wondering what to do with crop planting farmers it is business as usual for Cowra farmers.

Elders Cowra agronomist Mitch Dwyer said it is currently "wait and see" for local farmers but they had definitely not raised a "white flag".

"Cowra has always been a relatively safe area in the central west zone," Mr Dwyer said despite the lower than average rainfall so far this year.

In January Cowra received 59.4mm followed by just 17.4mm in February and only 0.2mm so far in March.

Cowra's only significant fall in January was on January 12 when 24.4mm was recorded.

In February the only significant rainfall event occurred on February 9 when 8mm fell.

He added that Cowra is a hard area to predict what is going to happen with some areas receiving significant storms and others just "a few spots".

"In December we had big storms at Woodstock and other areas only received two or three mils," he said.

Despite the dry start Mr Dwyer said Cowra "still has plenty of water".

"Everyone is still sticking to their guns, being early March it is still relatively early in our season so we're not too concerned, must people are sticking to the seasons plans they set out over Christmas and the New Year.

Farm activity at this stage, he said "comes down to the summer storm pattern and what events have happened".

"Some in the high rainfall area where they picked up summer storms have been able to sow early and get crops in but it's still early times for that, they need follow up rains.

"At this time of the year it comes down to planning, looking at feed requirements and dual purpose cropping that fits into their system and managing short season crops."

In terms of moisture levels in the district Mr Dwyer said, "in some areas there is good moisture down to 10cm and below, we're just waiting for that autumn break to fill the top half of the profile which would let us sow."

"Areas that are being grazed are obviously a bit different," he added.

Cowra's moisture levels are far better than areas further west with agronomists reporting very little if any moisture in the soil down to 30cm.

"As a whole (in Cowra) there is still a bit of moisture that has been retained from the storms, that got through the profile, and we're hoping on that to keep things ticking along."

While the long range weather forecast isn't promising Mr Dwyer said "what we learn't from last year is that long range forecasts don't mean a lot".

"Anything can happen, anything can change, basically the way it is shaping up we're pretty confident we are going to get an average rainfall season for grain.

"Hopefully when we get more widespread rainfall as it starts to cool off a little bit and we start to see more (rain) build up and we get a break before the end of March everything will be back on track.

"Dual purpose crops will have a big fit this season, our wheat and canola, because there is still a fair bit of stock in the system.

"We're lucky to be the right side of the Newell Highway, our season is going to be a hell of a lot better and looks a lot more promising than the west of the state.

"At this stage we're not throwing in the white flag.

Agronomist Mitch Dwyer inspecting a crop last June. Things looked pretty good in Cowra in June last year despite a dry start to 2018.

Agronomist Mitch Dwyer inspecting a crop last June. Things looked pretty good in Cowra in June last year despite a dry start to 2018.

"We'll be managing our dual purpose and early season crops to fit in with the rainfall period and maximise the returns.

"There are a lot of new varieties, especially the canola, that are coming through now that allow us to sow later and still get a graze of it.

"For dual purpose crops we have a bigger sowing window to get a maximum return," he said.

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