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Rain puts harvest on hold

IF THERE was an option to order more rain this week Peter Maughan would have ticked the "hold off" box.

Although the 70-year-old Willowvale farmer gets a little edgy when he contemplates knocking back wet weather, after all he knows the region needs widespread falls.

"If the rain could just stop at my boundary fence for another week or so it would be ideal," he laughed.

"Give me time to get the wheat off."

Where there has been rain the country has responded quickly, but most places haven't received anywhere near enough rain to stop feeding, if they had started.

When the Bush Tele caught up with him recently he was waiting to harvest on the 200ha property his family has owned for generations.

Yet in a dilemma common to many Southern Downs grain growers this week he also admitted he needed planting rain.

Weather patterns may work in the local farmers' favour with senior meteorologist Max Gonzalez predicting a few days of sunshine ahead of a wet change on Thursday.

The Weatherzone forecaster said a low pressure system could bring falls of 5-15mm to Warwick from Thursday through to Sunday.

"Closer to the ranges and in places like Stanthorpe falls for the same period could be as high as 20-40mm," Mr Gonzalez said.

"This trough is likely to bring more widespread rain than the storm falls we had last week."

He said storm rain brought tops of between 50-100mm to areas along the eastern ranges of the Southern Downs, while other areas measured between 10-50mm.

Olsen's Produce manager Ian Wallace said the wet weather had "inconvenienced" grain growers waiting to harvest, but was unlikely to have a detrimental impact on wheat and barley crops still in the paddock.

"Rain has held up harvesting but it isn't likely to be a drama for wheat or barley quality or yields yet," Mr Wallace said.

"Most people actually need more rain so they can think about planting sorghum, as November is the ideal time."

It's a similar situation for livestock producers across the region, according to GNF Warwick agent Maugan Benn.

"The rain we had last week will only be as good as the follow up falls we get," he explained.

"At this stage I don't think it's likely to have much impact on the store cattle market, but locally the fat market has been very strong.

"Ideally we need widespread rain, but then again even a little rain tends to lift rural confidence."

While the storm rain was welcomed by Southern Downs landholders, Riverina Warwick territory manager Chris Dearden said the falls were unlikely to reduce demand for supplementary feed.

He said the high demand for stockfeed from the organisation's Warwick plant was expected to continue.

"Where there has been rain the country has responded quickly, but most places haven't received anywhere near enough rain to stop feeding, if they had started," Mr Dearden explained.

"I think most livestock producers will be holding out hope for more rain this week."

Topics:  drought livestock wheat