Gurley farmer Peter Jackson is counting his blessings that he will have a crop to harvest this year, following the driest winter since 2002.
Winter 2017 was Australia’s fifth warmest on record, and the tenth driest for New South Wales.
As a result of the mixed seasonal conditions, Australia’s total winter crop production is forecast to decrease by 39 per cent according to Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences’ (ABARES) latest figures.
With Moree only receiving 30mm of rain throughout the whole of winter, those figures are expected to be even lower for farmers in this region.
Mr Jackson, whose property ‘Inverness’ is located about 35km south-east of Moree, said their product values are down by half on last year as a result of the dry winter.
“Our production will be less than (the 39 per cent Australian production decrease) but production values are half of last year,” he said.
“Our crops that have had residual moisture, those crops are doing okay but the late finishing crops last year are the crops that are really struggling.”
In particular, the Jacksons’ wheat crops are struggling the most with the lack of subsoil moisture.
“Our wheat is on the back of linseed which dried out early,” Mr Jackson said.
“We have 200 hectares of wheat written off and another 240 hectares will go one tonne to the hectare.
“Last year we got five tonne of hectare.”
In addition to wheat, the Jacksons have chickpea, linseed, oats and durum crops which aren’t faring as badly. A portion of these are production crops for AusWest Seeds.
“Durum is looking okay because that was on canola which finishes up early, so there was moisture left over,” Mr Jackson said.
“Grazing oats have hit a wall but they’ll put up a head.”
Despite the warm winter, Mr Jackson said his crops won’t be ready to harvest until late October.
“Our crops are later in development, it seems that we’re behind,” he said.
Mr Jackson said at this stage they’re expecting to get a crop off whether it rains or not now, however rain will certainly be a bonus.
While he’s very thankful to even have a crop to harvest this year, Mr Jackson’s thoughts go out to other farmers in the region, particularly those west of the highway, who aren’t so lucky.
“I’m so thankful to have a crop and concerned for those who haven’t,” he said.
“I just want people to know and understand that just because they haven’t got a crop, doesn’t mean they’re of less value.
“The value that they have as people is not whether they’ve got a crop or not.
“It’s a tough gig.”