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Wheatbelt farmers desperate for rain as crops dry out

Wednesday July 3, 2013 - 08:24 EST
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A farmer walks across his barren field. (file) - ABC

Farmers in the Wheatbelt are getting desperate for rain with one of the driest starts to winter on record.

Crops in some areas have been written off already and others could die if there's no rain in the next few weeks.

The Weather Bureau says there is no rain forecast for the next week in the region but the longer range forecast shows there is a chance of above average rainfall through July and August.

The WA Farmers Federation president Dale Park says in parts of the eastern Wheatbelt, around Muckinbudin and Southern Cross, farmers have put in only 10 to 20 per cent of their usual crop.

"If you'd said to people a month ago that they were virtually going to get no rain in June, everybody would have laughed at you because it's almost, well, it is unheard of," he said.

Beverley Farmer Jeff Murray says crops are starting to show the effects of the dry weather.

"Things are on a knife edge really; just had June which has been our driest June on record, I'd think, six and a half mils for the month and the grass is dry," he said.

"We've got July to get some good rain and then after that it'll be starting to dry out again I guess."

Tek Ag agronomist Tyrone Henning says with no rain on the horizon, it is difficult for many Wheatbelt growers to stay positive about their crops.

"Even if we had rain tomorrow, it's seven days before it would have emerged," he said.

"You've probably got medium season length wealth there, such as your mace or such, but it's outside their optimum window.

"Heavier soil types that haven't come out - their yield potential is not that good."


© ABC 2013

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