Oberon farmers on a knife-edge as winter approaches

DOWN on rain and with no significant falls on the horizon, Oberon farmers are on a knife-edge heading into what looks like a cold and very dry winter.

With dam levels falling as well, NSW Farmers Association Oberon Branch chair Hugh Webb says farmers in the area have about three weeks up their sleeves to sort their stock out.

“It’s going to be a tight winter, but another three weeks without rain is going to make it extremely tight,” he said.

“As time goes on, the long-term forecasts aren’t looking that flash. We could be going into an El Niño spring, which I hope is wrong.

“The fact that we had a very dry winter last year means we’re playing catch up.” 

Rainfall is well below average across Oberon, with Mr Webb’s home at Edith recording just 480 millimetres for the past 12 months compared with the normal 800mm. 

Tarana has had only 360mm compared with the normal 730mm. 

While Mr Webb could not provide rainfall statistics for Mount David, he described its situation as “desperate”. 

“Anyone who doesn’t make decisions soon may be caught with their pants down,” he said.

This year’s drought is similar to 2009, when only 84mm fell in the first quarter of the year. 

“In 2009 it was an El Niño year, but we were lucky enough to snag a lot of storm rain,” Mr Webb said.

“Even when it’s meant to be dry, you might snag storm rain and that may help you through.”

However, even if farmers have to sell off their livestock, they are selling into a strong market because of good commodity prices. 

“It’s still a good market to sell into. Lamb, mutton and beef are still good to sell into,” Mr Webb said.

“Because it rained in Queensland a month ago, Queensland are helping with the store cattle market.”