The driest June on record is taking a toll on crops

NSW DPI agronomist Rohan Brill of Wagga.
NSW DPI agronomist Rohan Brill of Wagga.

DESPITE experiencing the driest June on record Riverina winter crops are “still in the game”, says a Wagga agronomist.

There has been plenty of concern about struggling crops to the north of the Riverina and around Ariah Park and Ardlethan.

NSW Department of Primary Industries agronomist Rohan Brill, based at Wagga, said minimal falls of 50mm to 75mm since April 1 or during the growing season so far were to blame. 

He said most of the crops were sown on time and met the traditional window to capitalise on the season.

However, winter crops on heavier soils were feeling the affects of the dry season.

“It is a real credit (to farmers) just how well crops are doing in this area, had this happened 20 years ago it would have been a real disaster.” 

Mr Brill said canola was worst affected by the dry conditions. 

In addition to low rainfall the region has been hit by a run of frosts which are known to dry out the soil.

DPI Seasonal Conditions Coordinator Ian McGowen said June was the driest since 2002, with many southern inland areas having the driest June on record.

“Topsoil moisture declined across much of southern NSW, the south of the central west and areas of the southern and central tablelands.

“Pasture growth remained limited or declined across most of NSW,” he said.  

Despite the warmer than normal daytime temperatures, a combination of lack of moisture, heavy frosts and grazing pressure restricted pasture growth with annual and native pastures the most affected.

“Stock condition generally remained good, although limited pasture growth in many areas has meant that supplementation was necessary,” he said. 

“Wheat and canola crops sown in late April and early May are handling the dry conditions, but will need rainfall soon to maintain current yield potential.”

The Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall outlook for July to September indicates drier than normal conditions.