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Drought affected New South Wales farmers praying for weekend rain after a very dry July

Michael Condon, Alex Blucher and Mike Pritchard, Thursday August 14, 2014 - 07:48 EST
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The drought-stricken Walgett Shire has been hard - ABC

The rainfall forecast for this weekend in New South Wales could not come at a better time.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting widespread rain of between 20 and 50 mm throughout most of the state.

New South Wales DPI seasonal conditions co-ordinator Ian McGowen says the forecast rain comes off the back of a less than ideal July.

"Last month the rainfall during July was below average across 75 per cent of NSW," Mr McGowen said.

"In fact over the last year, rainfall was particularly low over areas of the north, north east and the coast.

"In July, pasture growth deteriorated as did stock water supplies.

"Many areas remain in what is known as a 'green drought'.

"Crop growth remained reasonable to good across southern and central areas, but poor in the north.

"But the impact of any frost damage is still too early to really quantify.

"Good rainfall is needed now for crops in August and again early September to really safeguard the crop for farmers," Mr McGowen said.

In the Hunter Valley the season remains on a knife-edge.

District Vet with the Hunter Local Lands Services, Digby Rayward, says farmers must have a plan for dealing with the dry conditions.

"If people need to buy in more feed or sell off stock then they need to make that decision right now," Dr Rayward said.

"Rain forecast for this weekend may be a saving grace for producers but planning ahead is the only way to avoid an animal welfare issue if the feed runs out."

In the Bathurst region, water storages are low and a dry outlook has central west producers getting prepared for a dry summer ahead.

Despite El Nino predictions being downgraded from 70 to 50 per cent, producers have started installing water infrastructure and lightening stocking rates.

Ian Hendry, who runs cattle near Bathurst, says the last month has been dry and he is hopeful of getting some of the forecast rain this weekend.


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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