Following a good start to autumn, pasture growth responded well assisting many of the state’s primary producers preparing for winter.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Seasonal Conditions coordinator Ian McGowen said pastures generally responded well to the April rainfall, particularly in some central areas and the south of the state.
“During April, 18 per cent of NSW received above average rainfall which included areas of the south and where it is needed, covering most of the far west,” Mr McGowen said.
“Rainfall was below average to near-average across 58 per cent of the state during April.
“Areas of the far north east, including the mid-north to far north coast received below average rainfall during April, giving landholders the opportunity to dry out following the late March deluge.
“Pasture growth improved across areas of southern, western and central west of NSW and was maintained across coastal areas and the tablelands.
“Good winter growth and pasture establishment will be dependent on the continuation of mild conditions into early winter and receiving follow up rainfall.
“In some areas there has been an increased interest in pasture sowing, which has meant the seed of some pasture species such as Phalaris and Lucerne are in short supply.”
Mr McGowen said topsoil moisture declined across most of the coast as moisture moved into the subsoil, while levels improved in the south and across some areas of central and north western NSW. Most winter cropping areas had less than 30 per cent of a saturated profile, with levels lower in the west.
“The April rainfall provided sufficient topsoil moisture to allow for preparation and sowing of winter crops to commence, however follow up rainfall will be necessary in many areas,” Mr McGowen said.
“Chickpeas are popular this winter with the current prices and the possibility of a drier season.
“The establishment of early sown dual purpose crops has generally been good, with grazing commencing in some areas.
“Some farmers have experienced difficulties in handling the heavy stubble from last year’s winter crops. There has been an increased amount of stubble burning to assist paddock preparation, crop sowing and to reduce disease and weed burdens.”
The Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall outlook for May to July indicates drier than normal conditions are likely across NSW.
Daytime temperatures are likely to be warmer than normal across most of NSW, with overnight temperatures warmer than normal across areas of eastern, south eastern and far north western NSW.
The Pacific Ocean remains in an ENSO neutral state, with the outlook from most models suggesting neutral conditions continuing into winter, but with increasing chances of warming to El Niño levels during late winter and spring.
As the dry conditions continue, primary producers are encouraged to visit www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au for information on a vast range of services and support available to prepare for and manage drought conditions.