Cereals king in dry country

Crop near Moorkalla.THE MILLEWA region, in the state’s far north-west, is a dryland farming zone, running from Mildura west to the South Australian border.
Nanjing Night Net

Unofficial capital of the region is the hamlet of Werrimull, which also has the largest grain receival point.

The other grain terminal is further to the west at Meringur.

Passers-by would be most familiar with Lake Culleleraine, which is situated on the Sturt Highway and is popular with watersports enthusiasts, while fishermen also enthuse about Lock 9, some 10km north of Lake Culleleraine on the Murray.

Other localities within the region include Karawinna, Bambill and Moorkalla.

All up, it is about 120km east-west and 60km north-south.

The soil types vary from heavy Belah country, named after the prevalent casuarina trees, to sandier rises, especially closer to the Sunset Country in the south of the region. Closer to the Murray there is riverflat country, but this is seldom cropped.

Cereals are king throughout the Millewa, with other crops considered too risky in the low rainfall environment, however canola and field peas are being grown this year.

Land values are among the lowest in the state, from around $250 to $400 in general, although this figure is on the rise.

Much of the ground has good fertility, however moisture is the key issue.

Rainfall is extremely low, around 250-300mm annually, with frequent years below 200mm.

Due to the low rainfall, farmers are not so concerned about disease management, conserving moisture is by far and away the biggest agronomic concern.

This year, the crops are better in the east of the region, due to better rainfall, however, frequently areas closer to the SA border fare slightly better, as is the case in many border regions, such as the Mallee Track from Ouyen to Murrayville and the Wimmera from Dimboola to Kaniva.

There is some small-scale irrigation now around Lake Culluleraine, however broadacre cropping and sheep still dominate the farming sector.

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