Victoria might have had an easier winter than NSW, but it is worse placed going into spring according to a Bureau of Meteorology climatologist.
Released on Thursday BoM’s seasonal outlook shows Victoria has a 70 percent chance of a dryer than average spring.
Despite a dry winter, central Victorian farmers say they could still have a decent season, but it all hinges on getting good spring rains.
BoM’s climate outlook shows the first two months of spring are likely to be dryer than average for most of southern, eastern and northern Australia.
Days and nights are also likely to be warmer than average.
Climatologist Jonathan Pollock said the seasonal outlook showed a 70 percent chance that dry conditions around Bendigo would continue into spring.
He said the area had experienced dryer than average conditions, with cooler nights, and warmer days this winter.
Bendigo has been warmer than average since the beginning of the year.
Soil moisture across most of the northern part of Victoria was also below average, he said, meaning the first of any heavy rains would go into wetting the soil.
Mr Pollock said that dry conditions were creeping south towards the Riverina.
Don McKinnon runs 2,500 sheep and lambs at Derby Downs in Marong.
He believes he is “fortunate” to have had enough feed stored for winter, but needs some spring rains to make hay and fill his sheds again.
Mr McKinnon said conditions have been dry in recent years, but not as bad as he’s seen in a lifetime of farming.
He recalls as a child growing up at Leichhardt when the dust storms were so bad they couldn’t see the road well enough to drive.
With recent rains, Mr McKinnon remains confident that the season will turn in farmer’s favour. He said winter rainfalls were satisfactory, but autumn were light on, leaving farmers without a firm feed foundation.
“Because there’s not a lot of moisture conserved in the subsoils, it is very critical that we get good spring rains to finish off the season,” he said.
“I keep saying, we’re fortunate…we’ve been through the tough time, and luckily we’re getting enough rain now to have a season.”
Elmore farmer David Johnson said rainfall had been light on over winter, meaning feed was not as abundant as it should be for the time of year.
He said if he got some good spring rains, he’d be right, but if conditions continue dry he may have to cut his harvest early and reduce stock.
“We’re going to need a hell of a good spring to salvage this year,” he said.
But, Mr Johnson emphasised conditions in central Victoria were not dire.
“It’s not doom and gloom here,” he said.
“If you want to see doom and gloom go up over the river. It could turn into a pretty ordinary year here, but it’s not desperation stakes.”