Late break in season combats two year dry spell

SEASON BREAK: Farmer Brett McLaren says while the break in the season has been later than average, the rainfall is very welcome.
SEASON BREAK: Farmer Brett McLaren says while the break in the season has been later than average, the rainfall is very welcome.

The recent rainfall across the South East has been a welcome relief for farmers in the region, albeit a late break in the season according to Kingston cattle and sheep farmer Brett McLaren.

“We’ve had a late-ish break, we’ve had to wait right until the end of May to get a break in the season.. “

He said that while the break in the season usually occurs around April/May, the addition of a dry summer has exacerbated conditions.

“We’ve had two very below-average seasons in succession, which is pretty rare for this area, normally you get one dry year… so two dry years in succession means it’s pretty tight.”

He said the rain has been very valuable though, although inconsistent.

“The rainfall itself has been patchy, so some areas are missing out,” he said.

Mr McLaren said the timing has been good though, as it hasn’t been too cold yet.

“Anyone who’s sown a crop in now, most will be finished by now, they should be starting to get germination in those pastures – if it gets too late, it also gets too cold, and the grass doesn’t grow as much.”

“It’s been a very timely, very welcome rain,” he said.

Mr McLaren also said that while the winter rain is valuable, it’s the rain in spring that will be the most important.

“Being the start of winter we expect wet conditions and more rain from now right through until end of August, and we’d like to have a spring this year, ‘cause we haven't had a spring, last couple of years winter has finished and that’s been it, it stops, and the spring rains – the most valuable rains of the season – they don’t come through,” he said.

“You can have as much rain as you want in winter but it’s the spring rain is the icing on the cake, if you don’t get the spring rain it can make things really hard.”

Mr McLaren’s farm sits 18km out of Kingston and has been in his family for three generations.