Unseasonal but confidence-lifting rain has fallen across a large tract of dry country stretching from Central Queensland to northern NSW and northern pastoral South Australia over the past four days.
The footprint of the “very early spring” rainfall spanned a large area of drought-stricken eastern Australia that is home to close to half the national cattle herd, delivering falls of between 25-50mm to many properties where it was desperately needed.
Where it has been received the falls have provided a crucial pressure release, but falls have again been hit-and-miss with totals varying significantly from property to property.
Some properties even within areas where high totals were recorded are still waking today to dry paddocks, the disappointment of dashed expectations and the relentless daily grind of drought.
The maps at left indicate where rain fell each day from Thursday through to Saturday, while the fourth map shows collective totals received for the seven days through to 9am Sunday.
Rod Turner at Landmark in Roma told Beef Central yesterday afternoon that properties he had spoken to over the weekend reports rainfall measurements ranging from 50-60mm in the Tambo-Blackall areas, 60-70mm west of Charleville and towards Quilpie, 30mm at Windorah, 60-70mm around Mitchell, 70mm at St George, 30-37mm at Roma, 60mm at Surat and 15-20mm further east of Roma.
He pointed out that the falls had been very patchy, with one property owner he spoke to having recorded a variation of one inch (25mm) in the totals he measured from one end of his property to the other.
“For the blokes who have got one and a half to two inches, it is definitely looking more positive now,” Mr Turner said.
“I have just been out on one property today and you could see the buffel starting to shoot already.
“The ground is warm, it is not going to grow a lot at this time of year but it will make it good for the spring because the country will have the moisture in it.”
Further west at Charleville, Landmark’s Marc McKellar tipped 65mm out of his gauge yesterday. He said that while the benefit of this rain would largely depend on what follow-up rain is received in coming weeks, he said it was still “very useful”.
“We never get rain in August, it is normally our worst month, so to get it now is pretty handy.”
Rod Turner said the impact on the cattle market would be immediate with Roma already facing large cancellations for tomorrow’s store sale, which was likely to sell a very reduced yarding.
He said the expectation of rain last week had already had an effect on prices.
“You could see it here last Thursday (for the weekly Roma prime cattle sale), we were getting $1.86/kg for bullocks, $1.55 for cows and $1.88 for bulls. That was up 15c on cows, 10c on bullocks and 10c on bulls, and at the store sale last Tuesday steers were up 20c and heifers were up 30c.
“There was plenty of sizzle last week even before the rain, you know what they say, the sizzle is more powerful than the sausage.”
Mr Turner said the timing of the rain may also point to more ahead.
“Usually when it comes in on the full moon like that, often the old bushies say it will keep coming on the full moon.”
The prospect of rain underpinned a reduction in offerings at quite a number of NLRS-reported northern markets last week.
“This will be the first rain of any substance for many northern regions since March, which was limited and has been followed with almost nil rainfall since then,” MLA said on Friday. Regardless, during that time the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator hit a low of 302.5¢/kg during mid-March, with the rainfall momentum assisting prices through to mid-April, to around 360¢/kg. While this boost was not only facilitated by northern showers, it marked the commencement of the excellent autumn break in the south-east.”
While there was a modest contraction in NLRS saleyard offerings last week, any prolonged reduction in saleyard numbers would depend on the breadth and timeliness of any follow up falls, MLA said.
- More on the implications from the weekend rain in tomorrow’s weekly Eastern States kill report, and Wednesday’s weekly rainfall wrap.