Springwood Farm

Walnuts, Berries, Beef and Farm Stay

Climate and Rainfall

Cumulative rainfall at the farm 


End August 2019: Starting out with lower rainfall than even the major drought year of 2009, this August we received the highest monthly rainfall (168.5mm) that we have recorded in any month. We had the highest stream flows we have ever observed. I would not call it a "flood" since we are only 1 to 2 km from the top of our catchment. Certainly the ground is sodden and we have to be where we drive the tractor when we are feeding out hay to the steers.

End December 2018: This was the lowest for any calendar year. The total was less than 2006, our previous lowest year. However, we are still green and with sufficient grass for the steers not to need to supplement feed with hay. Total hay cut was less than last year but not by much. We have had intermittent (moderate) rain so we have not dried out badly. Fingers crossed for the rest of Summer.

End August 2018: We are tracking towards one of the lowest rainfall years we have seen since we bought the property. Yet we have fully saturated soil and everything is very green. All I can say is that it pays to buy in the right region. The end of winter has been very cold with a lot of grey days so the grass has yet to take off in it's spring burst. We have enough of our own hay (and grass) to keep our steers (and an increasing number of kangaroos that come in each night from the adjacent forest) more than happy. It pays to "understock"!

End of December 2017: This has been the third highest cumulative rainfall since we have been keeping records in 2003. The other 2 years that were higher were really wet years (soggy even!), much wetter than the figures would suggest. This has been a very good year for hay and silage throughout the district. This contrasts with 2015 where everyone (except us for reasons that are not obvious) had a very poor year for pasture growth. We have not even started to feed out hay or silage to our steers yet. Some years we were having to do that in early December. 

End of September 2017: We are coming out from one of our driest winters since we bought the farm. You would not know it looking at the paddocks. However, I can tell from the relative firmness of the soil when I am driving a tractor. In many ways, a little less winter rain is not a problem for our area but low spring and summer rains can be a really important issue.
We'll see how it eventuates.

End of September 2016: We are heading for a wet year but nothing as extreme as 2011. The paddocks are soggy underfoot but they firm up even after a single dry and sunny day. We seem to be in a rain shadow for the "atypical" rain events that now seem to happen every Spring where moist air funnels across the whole continent from the Indian Ocean and inundates the north of Victoria. Also being within sight of the top of our local catchment as well as being quite hilly, we don't have to worry about flooding like a lot of the north of the state.  

End of November 2015: Now that we are officially into Summer, we can now see how modest our Spring rainfall was this year. The only years when the cumulative totally for the calendar year has been lower were the major drought years of 2008 and 2009. The upside is that the weather has not been conducive to the development of blight on the walnuts although we have been spraying with activated copper ("Bordeaux") very regularly so it is impossible to say how much is the weather and how much is the spraying. As for our pasture, a lot of people have been short of grass for their cattle. However, we have found ourselves with a surfeit of grass this year. We are probably understocking but our steers just have been completely unable to keep up with pasture growth. This might seem like a good thing but, if the grass gets too long, it becomes unpalatable for the cattle. With agriculture, there are just so many variables, it is almost impossible to get everything exactly right! 

End of June 2015: While it feels as though it has been a low rainfall year, we are right in the middle of the range from our graphs of previous years. While the ground is very soft and moist, the rainfall this month (June) has been low compared to most years. The start of an El Nino event as predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology? ?

End of December 2014: From the graph, it is apparent that 2014 was a sort of middling year although the total for the year (910mm) was below the average we have from data from the last 11 years (931mm) but well within the standard deviation (141mm) as would be expected considering the wide variations in total annual rainfall. When you recall that, in our wettest years, the ground was totally saturated the whole time and there was considerable damage to some of our trees, 2014 has come close to being an "ideal" year with respect to rainfall, both in amount and timing. Fingers crossed for 2015. 

End of October 2014: The trend continues to be in the middle of the range of our decade of observations. Things are looking good at the moment but only a week ago, everything was still very soggy. It has dried out surprisingly fast. We did have the warmest October on record, I think I heard one of the weather people say. We are going to put in some agricultural drains through the walnut orchard to remove some of the worst "sog" in winter but we need the ground reasonably firm (but not too hard) before we do it.   

End of Autumn 2014: With rainfall, we are trending in the middle of the ranges for the years since 2003. We had an unusually warm autumn with a long spell in April/May of really pleasant days. With three of the warmest autumns on record being in the last 10 years, it looks as though this is what we should expect from now on. Both we and at least one of our neighbours are still picking tomatoes even though we are now officially into winter. My response to them was we are now in the sub-tropical zone what with global heating having clicked in with a vengeance. The Bureau of Metrology tells us to expect an El Nino event this summer. Interesting times ....