Allora farmer Lyn Patterson.
Allora farmer Lyn Patterson.

Allora farmers in need of rain

ALLORA farmer Lyn Patterson knows all too well the contradictions that come hand in hand with life on the land.

This year he is living one.

His oats paddocks on the black soil banks of Dalrymple Creek are desperately in need of rain; in contrast the creek is still flowing in May for the first time in years.

“We had a break early in the season to plant 50 acres of oats,” Mr Patterson said.

“But we desperately need rain now so plants will put down their secondary roots, otherwise we risk losing the crop.”

In an unlikely comparison the normally seasonal Dalrymple Creek which intersects his property east of Allora has been flowing since the start of the year.

“They received about 30 inches up in the ranges where the creek heads and as a result we’ve had a good flow for months,” Mr Patterson said.

“It is a big improvement. Our past few seasons have been shocking.

“I reckon the creek will keep running for another week or so and then it will be the end until we get rain in the catchment.”

On the broader subject of the seasonal situation, Mr Patterson believes some of the region still deserves drought status.

“A few showers don’t mean the drought is over, by any means,” he said.

“It will be a long time before people recover; there have been some tough times.”

He also harbours genuine concerns about suggestions those along the region’s waterways may be about to have their water licenses permanently reduced.

“I have a 40 meg licence and we’ve already been cut back to between 40 and 50 percent of that,” Mr Patterson said.

“If the government legislates to cut it back permanently there will be a lot of irrigators, who go under financially.”

After a lifetime working the land he wonders if he’d survive fiscally with increased water restrictions.

“With seasons like we’ve had you need to be able to irrigate a little. If you can, it makes the difference,” Mr Patterson said.

For the Allora farmer being able to water has meant another successful Lucerne crop, which now baled is earning him a tidy $11 per bale plus gist.

“Demand for hay is just starting to pick up, as we have more frosts and feed goes off, people will need more,” he said.

It’s an astute way to complement his livestock enterprise.

“I’ve bought about 40 head of Angus cross weaners during the past three weeks through the local pig and calf sale and the cattle sale,” Mr Patterson said.

“I have averaged about $210 per animal, which is about $1.80 to $2 per kg.

“At that price I can usually grow them out for 12 months and sell them on and make a little bit in between.”

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