LOOKING SKYWARD: Grain growers, including newly appointed Mallee Sustainable Farming chairman Daniel Linklater, are keeping a keen eye on the sky in the hope that good winter rain will come down to spur this season’s crop on.  Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By JOHN DOOLEY

GRAIN growers have welcomed recent rain received in the Mallee in the past few weeks, with totals as high was 23mm recorded across three rain events.

Newly appointed Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) chair, Daniel Linklater, said the rain received in the region over the last three weeks or so had definitely benefitted this year’s sowings.

“The rain we got last week was quite a nice drop, and we received between 4mm and 8mm over our property, and we have some crop that has leapt into gear as a result, and it’s going very nicely,” he said.

“Then there are other areas of the farm that are still struggling and the shoots are yet to get out of the ground – so it is a real mixed bag.”

Mr Linklater said it was his understanding that this was the typical status for most of the Mallee.

“At this stage things are patchy, and I think this is pretty much the picture throughout the region at the moment,” he said. “The lentils, surprisingly, have actually been some of the better performers and they have germinated quite consistently, and some of our early wheat that was sown is coming up.”

Mr Linklater said that the rain had fallen on several different occasions.

“The rain has been spread over a few downfalls that have been a week or more apart, we received rain three weeks ago, and there was a rain event a week prior to that, and out of those two rain events we got 14mm in total, plus what we got last week,” he said.

“Some of the country has had in the order of 22-23mm, some have had less, and where it’s much less and the soil is not as forgiving the sprouting-seed is struggling to come through.

“Whereas in other areas, where the soil is more consistent and it’s received the higher end of the rain that we’ve had, the crop is looking quite nice.”

Mr Linklater said the reality is more rain is needed in the coming weeks if the season is going to get the kick-along it needs.

“It would be really good to see a double-digit rainfall event that would deliver the guarantee that everything you’ve planted is going to come up,” he said.

Speaking of the new incoming MSF chair, outgoing and long-serving MSF chairman, and former president of Victorian Farmers Federation Grains Group, Ian Hastings, said he was pleased to be handing over to a new generation of leadership.

“I am delighted that this succession plan, put in place by the MSF Board a few years back, has now come to fruition,” he said. “Daniel has been deputy chair for two years and now is the right time to make this change.”

Mr Linklater thanked Mr Hastings for his long service and contribution to MSF.

“I want to pay tribute to Ian for his leadership of MSF through the last 13 years,” he said. “He stepped in at a time when MSF faced some significant challenges, and has steered it through a period of growth to become a recognised regional partner for delivery of Research and Extension to Mallee farmers across the tri-State zones in Victoria, NSW and South Australia.

“They are big shoes to fill, but I am looking forward to it.”