WITH rain in the forecast, farmers would have good reason to celebrate this weekend. It may take some good falls to regenerate the moisture needed for spring.

Leader for Coastal and Temperate Pasture Systems for the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Lester McCormick said the deficit in stored water leaves this region at risk if dry conditions persist.

Despite good planning, balancing planting against the drought can be an uphill battle.

“Now, unless I’ve got a got a good rainfall and stored it in the summer of ’12, most fallows don’t have even the moisture to consider sowing an annual forage crop this summer.

Mr McCormick said he has heard croppers on the plains with fallows are confronting tough soil moisture levels with only 40 and 100cm of stored soil water.

“And that’s not very much for two years. Whereas, if you’re in a perennial pasture system, or a system where you haven’t fallowed for very long, or you have an oat crop, you haven’t got any soil water yet. It’s used it all.

He said evaluation of rainfall history shows that if this region does not receive average rainfall in summer, than the rest of the year will likely be below average. It also means that many producers in northern NSW do not have the reserves of stored feed or standing dry feed.

“And this year has certainly shown that we didn’t receive anywhere near average summer rainfall and that story has held true in that we don’t have reasonable rainfall this season,” Mr McCormick said.

“So at this point in time, we’re extremely vulnerable if we don’t have spring rain, because we’re going to have no continued growth.”

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