Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar resonated the heart-wrenching predicament of many farmers and graziers over the decades since the line “her pitiless blue sky” in her epic poem My Country was written as drought gripped the land once again.

According to the BOM, the month of September rainfall was 70.8 per cent below the 1961–1990 average for Australia, and the driest September on record since 1900.

The month was dominated by high pressure systems which brought settled weather conditions and ‘cloudless sky’ for most of the country.

As landholders in need of rain gaze at their thirsty paddocks, there is a glimmer of hope for small pockets of the north west with the long-range forecast released on October 5, indicating the North West Slopes and Plains, the Upper Western, and Riverina districts, and southern Queensland are more likely (60 to 80 per cent chance) to have above median rainfall, while below median rainfall for November 2023 to January 2024, is predicted for the rest of the state.

Meanwhile The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) releases the Australian Crop Report quarterly and contains ABARES forecasts for the area, yield, and production of Australia’s major winter and summer broadacre crops. The September report revealed that winter crop production in NSW is forecast to reach 10.1 million tonnes in 2023–24. This is down 33 per cent from 2022–23 and now sits 13 per cent below the 10-year average.

ABARES presents a grim forecast for summer crop production in NSW, with wheat production expected to be 2.4 million tonnes in 2023–24, 3 per cent lower than 2022–23 and sorghum production expected to fall by 41 per cent to 448 thousand tonnes, seven per cent lower than the 10-year average. Low levels of stored soil moisture and the expectation of a hot and dry spring and summer is contributing to below-average sorghum production. Meanwhile the RFS on Monday issued a total fire ban for local government areas in the north west, including Gunnedah.

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