After the “driest September on record nationally,” a recent spell of heavy rain lifted the spirits of many farmers in the Southern Highlands.
While the rain was a welcome respite, drought conditions are set to continue through spring according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s mid-month outlook.
BoM climatologist Jonathan Pollock said expected rainfall in the region was a “bit of a mixed bag” with a “neutral to dry outlook” most likely.
“The area surrounding and to the south of Moss Vale has a 50 per cent chance of above average rain, further north is looking a bit drier,” Mr Pollock said.
“The chance of at least 100mm rain is more likely, but this won’t be enough to break drought conditions,” he said.
The temperature outlook indicated a continuation of higher than average day and night time temperatures, which could potentially exacerbate already reduced soil moisture levels.
While recent rain hasn’t been sufficient to break the drought, it has helped along crops of hay that are due to be harvested in coming weeks, according to Southern Rural Traders Moss Vale manager, Steve Evans.
“Our irrigated hay growers will start to cut in the next couple of weeks. Any kind of hay or grain has been very scarce, hopefully that will ease off the price a bit as well,” Mr Evans said.
Bowral Co-op CEO Craig Perkins said he had managed to secure “good, consistent deliveries” of hay out of Victoria, but had to ration them out until a bigger inventory could be secured.
“We’ve had to limit the amount of hay we hand out, as has everyone else. If we can get a greater volume when our previous growers start to cut the next crop, we’ll be able to lift the restriction,” he said.
Mr Perkins encouraged the Highlands community to continue donating to the co-op's drought appeal, which recently transferred donation collections and distribution to the Southern Highlands Foundation which is a deductible gift recipient.
“It is our intention to continue raising funds for local farmers until the drought breaks and we look forward to the ongoing support we have seen from the community.”
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