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While some farmers rejoice in rain sweeping WA's south, others say 'cows are swimming'

Gian De Poloni, Thursday August 10, 2017 - 11:37 EST
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Heavy rain is flooding paddocks in North Nungarin in the Wheatbelt. - ABC

Widespread rain across southern Western Australia has proven to be a mixed bag for farmers.

A cold front produced falls of up to 60 millimetres across the agricultural region on Wednesday, with more rain expected today.

Many farmers are welcoming the downpour as harvest season approaches, but for some it is too little, too late.

Vicki Miguel said the 13 millimetres that fell on her farm at Beacon in the northern Wheatbelt will offer no reprieve for her dry and dusty wheat crops.

"We would need lots of rain and some kind weather for us to be getting our header out this year," she said.

"Coming in over the hill into Beacon, you look down and it looks all brown and dry.

"There are little bits of crops starting to come up, but it's very late."



But just a two-hour drive south in Bruce Rock, grain and livestock producer Leigh Strange is celebrating the 34ml he has had so far.

"The rain here has been absolutely fantastic, we really couldn't be more pleased," he said.

"It's been extremely dry leading up to this event we've certainly been hanging out for a big one."

Mr Strange said the rain meant he would actually be able to harvest his crop.

"Whether it's a well below average crop or even pushing towards an average crop, it means we are going to harvest it at least where as in the months leading up it's been very doubtful," he said.

Cows are swimming in the South West

The story is completely different for dairy farmer Miles Mottershead, who herds 550 cattle at Witchcliffe in WA's South West.

"Our cows are swimming," he said.

"We keep shifting cows that are calving to higher ground just about every day because it's getting wetter and wetter."

Mr Mottershead said he has experienced a whopping 400ml of rain in the past five-and-a-half weeks.

"Our country will handle a lot of rain but when we get this much rain it starts flowing off everywhere," he said.

"Wherever you put the cows, there's only really one part of the paddock that's dry enough for them to lie down on the rest of it there's water in it up to six inches deep."

Mr Mottershead said the weather had prevented him for carrying out basic farming duties such as spraying for weeds.

"We need to get some fertilizer on but there's that much water going over the paddocks now that it would just take off down the creek," he said.

"One of the main things we've been doing is cutting trees off fences because of the wind we've had — it's just amazing.

"I've kept rainfall records back to 2001 and we've only had three months where it's been over 300ml and we're on track to have two of them in a row.

"Hopefully it will switch off for a little while very soon."

More rain is on the way with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting another cold front later this week and early next week.


- ABC

© ABC 2017

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