The advent of spring has generated no joy for growers and farmers as the sun goes down on one of the driest Septembers in memory.
The continued lack of rain has ratcheted up anxiety levels for crop farmers and those facing continued stock feeding.
“It’s bl**dy dry,” Navigators’ grower David Tatman said. “We haven’t had rain for well over a month. It was like someone turned the tap off at the beginning of September.”
“It’s good for ploughing - the soil’s easy to turn over, but if it continues like this, we’ll run out of water.”
Mr Tatman said he has two dams, 20 and a 30 megalitre capacities, but is already pumping water to his crops which he wouldn’t normally start until December.
“I have a water supply but it’s a finite source,” he said. “The spring rains keep the bores going and the sub-moisture in the soil, but without rain, the groundwater dries up and bore levels drop away.”
Mr Tatman says lack of water reduces the size and quality of produce, and he turns to hardier vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkin, leeks and kale.
“It is so hard to predict weather these days, but if there’s no rain by the end of October, things will be very tough.”
Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Dean Stewart, whose job it is to forecast weather, said while the month had not yet ended, September had “certainly been very dry over a lot of the State” with “below average” rainfall.
Official Bureau statistics will be released next week but Mr Stewart said “drier than average conditions are likely for the next three months.”
A local produce and stockfeed supplier said it “was as bad as he’d seen it in many years” and crops had suffered from lack of rain and hard frosts.
“There is very little grain to be harvested and 80-90 per cent of crops will be cut for hay, not harvested.”
He said the farmers he knows are growing “more concerned” each day without rain.