Riverina growers are assessing the damage after more than 150 millimetres of rain fell on what were set to be bumper crops.
Riverina Local Land Services agronomist Lisa Castleman described last week’s rain as an “extreme event”.
“I’m seeing swollen creeks, burst banks and typical low spots in paddocks with water lying on them or running through them,” she said.
“I’m seeing crops that were about to be harvested, in some places lodging, just with the amount of rain that fell on them.
Ms Castleman said there was a lot of uncertainty among growers about the damage.
“There’s the frustration of knowing that your quality’s deteriorating but you can’t get onto the paddock,” she said.
In some parts of the region, farmers were beginning to harvest again, but she said other growers could be waiting for weeks until their paddocks were dry enough to get harvesting equipment on to them.
Cattle bogged in canola stubble
Jim Morgan had 109mm of rain in 48 hours last week and said he had to rescue his stranded cattle who were bogged down to their bellies in canola stubble.
“There’s just water everywhere, I’ve never seen it before at this time of year,” Mr Morgan said.
“There’s virtually no wheat off in this district whatsoever.
“As far as the wheat crop goes, you’ve got to be a realist and I would say the word is ‘stuffed’.”
He said that before the deluge, his canola was yielding up to 3.4 tonnes a hectare.
‘Shot’ and ‘sprung’ wheat a surprise
It’s only the second year cropping for Ganmain growers Brent and Kendra Kerrisk.
They have found a significant portion of their wheat crop has already ‘shot’ and ‘sprung’ — which means the seeds have started to sprout before they’ve had a chance to harvest the crop.
“It was a little bit of a surprise,” Mr Kerrisk said.
“Our wheat’s only just come right, so I thought we might have been OK … but it’s responded not so flash.”
The Kerrisks said they were taking a punt on storing a large portion of their wheat, in the hope quality and prices may improve.
“For us, it’s just making us think about every opportunity we can get, to get the most from what we’ve got.”
Eastern Riverina might be lucky
Culcairn grower Murray Schulz said he only got one day of harvest in before receiving 145mm of rain last week.
“Some of our wheat is still reasonably green and I don’t think it’s been affected, but we really don’t know until we get the header back into it.”
Mr Schulz said getting headers and trucks onto the paddocks would be challenging.
“We’re going to have to ferry grain from paddocks out to trucks on roads.
“It will be one of those harvests we’ll be happy to see the end of.”
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