Rain comes too little too late for Riverina farmers

A freak year of dry conditions and frost has left some Riverina farmers struggling through one of the toughest winters. 

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the region endured warmer temperatures and less rainfall than years previous. 

Downside farmer said Steve Condell said pasture growth had been “chilled out” amid what could be described as a cold drought, with unprecedented frost.

“When the temperatures escalated, without water, (crops) tried to grow but couldn't,” Mr Condell said. 

“Some farmers will really be hurting.”

Mr Condell said a predicted increase in rainfall across October could come too late.  

It follows an average climate projection for spring, with the region expecting close to 50mm of rainfall across the month. 

This will be coupled with slightly higher than average temperatures, but Mr Condell said the damage had already been done.

“The projection of rain will help,” he said.

“But a lot of the crops have set the pattern for the yield they will have now.” 

He said farmers were resilient, rolling with season and making the best of every decision. 

He said farming wasn’t an exact science. 

“There is nothing to be gained from being negative about a bad season,” Mr Condell said. 

“You have to go forward to keep playing the games.”

NSW Department of Primary Industries agronomist Rohan Brill said most paddocks north and west of Wagga would be at a loss this year but he said mixed farmers could still benefit from spring’s outlook. 

“We’ve had seven, pretty reasonable years leading up to this year,” Mr Brill said. 

“From what I’ve seen, it’s … nowhere near the droughts of 2006 and 2007.”

Wagga’s Bureau of Meteorology technical officer Nigel Smedley said the region could expect a standard summer, with average rainfall on the way. 

Mr Smedley added there would always be more rain with sudden and unpredictable storms.

His words come as the city prepares for a bought of wild weather on Tuesday night. 

Wagga’s NSW SES controller Daniel Mahoney said residents were no strangers to storms but the outlook was reasonable, compared to last year. 

For emergency help in floods and storms, call 132 500.