Goulburn and district rain drops a little late for some

Sunday night's rain was a welcome drop but more would be needed to make any material difference, district graziers have said.

Goulburn received just 9.4mm, taking the total for this year to 473.4mm, according to Weatherzone. Bradfordville resident Leon Oberg recorded 10.5mm.

At Roslyn, Katrina and Andrew Nixon reported 23.8mm at their 600-hectare cattle grazing property, Merryvale.

"It's better than nothing," Mr Nixon told The Post.

"It will freshen things up but the grass is past its vegetative stage into its reproductive stage so it won't produce extra feed. Unless there's follow-up rain it won't produce anything, but let's be positive, it may just be the start."

Merryvale has received 450mm this year, about half the normal annual fall.

The fifth generation farmer said while the season was tough, it wasn't the worst he'd seen. That honour belonged to the 1981/82 drought. Mr Nixon says he's one of the few in the area not relying on off-farm income.

Nevertheless, the dry conditions have forced a rethink. The Nixons have sold off stock sooner than planned. Their fodder reserves are "virtually zero," a stark contrast to the 5000 tonnes of silage in 2016.

The fall was less generous elsewhere. Phil and Diane Broadhead received just 6.6mm at their sheep grazing property, Inverary Park, 6km southeast of Bungonia.

"The wind has really dried things up over the past month and more would be beneficial," Mr Broadhead said.

"...We're as good as anywhere (in terms of conditions), with the exception of north of Taralga. Over 40mm of snow and moisture in September helped us a lot but we're looking for a bit more rain. It won't be too late if we get it now."

Meantime, Crookwell resident Gary Winterbottom recorded 21.5mm, and at Kingsdale, Bernadette Heffernan registered 11mm in her gauge. On Sunday, residents were reporting rainfall of around 20mm at Gunning, Redground and Grabben Gullen before the downpour ceased.

Southeast Local Land Services senior agricultural advisor, Matt Lieschke said while it was welcome rain, the benefits would be mixed.

"It will help those paddocks that are still relatively green but a lot of them have gone off quite a bit," he said.

The Service's soil moisture probes recorded 8mm at Lake Bathurst, where the rain petered out, 17mm at Gunning, 28mm at Wheeo, 16mm at Laggan and 9mm at Bungonia. The probes have shown a rapid drawdown on soil moisture with the dry, windy conditions in recent weeks.

South East Local land Services senior agricultural advisor Matt Lieschke pictured at the bannister soil moisture probe last November. Photo: Clare McCabe.

South East Local land Services senior agricultural advisor Matt Lieschke pictured at the bannister soil moisture probe last November. Photo: Clare McCabe.

The Bureau of Meteorology registered 12mm at Taralga Post Office.

"This rain is nice but it would have been great if it had been two weeks ago," Mr Lieschke said.

"It's a bit late for most areas. Once the pastures are brown and dried off they won't get the same benefit as if they were green."

The Bureau is predicting below average rainfall until the end of the year. Mr Lieschke said this was largely driven by a very strong Indian Ocean diapole which, though expected to break down through summer, would create tough conditions in the short-term.

"Graziers are planning ahead for summer and working out strategies," he said.

"These will be around weaning young stock and making a call on what to sell straight off their mums. Once weaned, it enables them to make decisions on the adult breeding stock - what to keep and what to sell off - so there are some pretty tough decisions ahead."

Given that graziers had already cut stock numbers, they would be weighing up how much further they could go, factoring in fodder prices and dam levels. Mr Lieschke said feed had come back in price, with more on the market, but water on farms remained a challenge coming into summer.

Asked about the overall mood among the farming sector, he told The Post there was a certain level of optimism about the livestock industry's future given strong prices for mutton, lamb, wool and beef.

"But by the same token there's a fair bit of fatigue because the drought has been going on for a while," he said.

But he was quick to point out that help was at hand to assist farmers in formulating strategies to get through the period and recovery afterwards. Support is available through Local Land Services and the NSW Department of Primary Industries drought hub.

Elsewhere on the Southern Tablelands, agents weren't holding their breath for the rain to boost buyer numbers at South Eastern Livestock Exchange (SELX) in Yass this week.

"I don't think it will make a difference," Elders agent Philip White of Yass said.

"We're very late in the season to be getting rain. We need follow-up rain before we see much change," he said.

Livestock numbers could lower at this week's sales, with some farmers holding on to see if the rain helps their pastures, but many would continue to destock, Mr White said.

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This story Rain brings a dash of hope to Goulburn and district first appeared on Goulburn Post.

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