Relief for farmers as rain threat subsides ahead of cropping

Farmers across the Ballarat region were breathing a sigh of relief by Sunday night after severe weather which threatened to flatten crops narrowly missed western Victoria. 

Canola crops across the region were under threat from the severe weather forecast.

Canola crops across the region were under threat from the severe weather forecast.

Thursday and Friday saw a mad rush for farmers around the region racing the clock to prematurely strip crops of canola, barley, wheat and oats as the Bureau of Meteorology threatened a dumping of more than 100 mm of rain was on the way over the weekend.  Victorian Farmers Federation Ballarat representative Chris Draffin said the forecast weather would have been “nothing short of disastrous” for farmers just weeks away from beginning their harvest. 

He said while western Victoria was lucky to miss the bulk of the rain, the industry felt for their their colleagues in the north east of the state who were hit hardest.

“By Thursday everyone across all sectors was staring down the barrel but it didn't develop how they had first forecast,” Mr Draffin said.  “The farmers I’ve spoken to since are very relieved and grateful but most farmers would know farmers in other areas which have been hit.” 

While the rain fell consistently over the course of the past three days it never truly threatened to cause the flash flooding predicted or seen just a fortnight ago, when a huge deluge cause shopfronts in the Ballarat CBD to go under. 

By 5.30pm on Sunday evening the official BOM rain gauge at the Ballarat Airport had registered 46 mm over the three days of September, the bulk coming on Friday. 

While this still represents almost all of the average December rainfall for Ballarat, it never came quick enough to cause the flooding seen elsewhere in the state. 

By early Sunday morning the severe weather warnings which had been issued for central and western Victoria were cancelled. 

While the bulk of the state never experienced the deluge which had been warned by the BOM earlier in the week, State weather bureau manager Dr Andrew Tupper said the bureau would do it again if faced with a similar weather pattern.

"The way that this has panned out is essentially very similar to what we were predicting," he said.  "I guess the good news is, from the Melbourne perspective in particular and those in western Victoria, the event hasn't affected that area as much.

"So, if we had our time again, yes, we would put out an event with similar language to that."

Mt Saint Leonard in the Yarra Ranges recorded the highest rainfall total in Victoria with 228mm falling over the past three days, while Strathbogie, near Euroa, came second, with 221mm of rain.

The federal and state governments have announced that assistance of up to $1890 per household would be available for those affected.