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Farmers hopeful of rain predictions

p Corrigin farmer Dave Crossland remains hopeful that predictions of wetter than normal conditions for most of WA during the next quarter are right.WAFARMERS has welcomed the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BoM) prediction of wetter than normal conditions during the next quarter.

A BoM report predicts a 60 to 75 per cent chance of exceeding median rainfall in most parts of WA.

Its modelling is based on sea surface temperatures in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

BoM meteorologist Patrick Ward said wetter conditions were favoured for much of WA, particularly in the west, extending all the way down from the Pilbara through to the South West land division.

University of WA Oceans Institute professor Charitha Pattiaratchi said satellite data obtained from NASA showed the ocean northwest of WA, which is the start of the Leeuwin Current, was already several degrees warmer than normal.

He said past La Nina events had brought above average rainfall to WA and the current La Nina was one of the strongest ever recorded.

WAFarmers president Mike Norton said BoM’s prediction was refreshing news for farmers throughout the State, especially given that 2010 was one of the driest seasons on record.

“Soil moisture is currently very low in many areas of WA, so above average rainfall over the coming months will put farmers in a better position as they enter the new cropping season,” Mr Norton said.

Corrigin farmer Dave Crossland said the predictions were encouraging.

“I suppose you’ve got to pin your hopes on something even if they are still guessing a little bit,” Mr Crossland said.

“You’ve got to gain a bit of confidence and faith in the start of the year out of that.”

Mr Crossland had been carting water every four days for his livestock until 20mm of rain at the beginning of January filled some dams.

When he spoke to Farm Weekly, he was spraying for summer weeds but said he would gladly put up with more melons if it meant more water in dams and subsoil moisture.

“Whenever we’ve had big rains in summer the season hasn’t turned out that flash, so I don’t know whether you’d read too much into that or not,” Mr Crossland said.

Moodiarrup farmer Michael Baxter said BoM’s predictions did not make him feel much better.

“I don’t think they really have that much idea,” Mr Baxer said.

“They quite often make predictions and are usually miles out.”

Pastoralist Will Scott, Wynyangoo station, Mt Magnet, said he believed in the El Nino and La Nina effects but BoM had predicted all sorts of things for years and got it wrong nearly every time.

Mr Scott said he believed BoM predictions were often wrong because all its funding had been directed towards climate change.

He said Australia’s good rains came out of the Indian Ocean, but BoM’s predictions were based on NASA research which was focused on the Pacific Ocean.

“The predictions are probably quite right, but they could be wrong – they don’t know,” Mr Scott said.

“My guess is as good as theirs, and hopefully they are right.”

Mr Scott said conditions at Wynyangoo were beautiful and green after the rain they received before Christmas, but if follow-up rain did not happen in the next couple of weeks, things could get a little tricky.

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