April 2017 saw large areas in the SE record more than three times their April average rainfall.
The unexpected rain has led to a quick finish for vintage season, and a good start for other growers in the Tatiara.
Temperatures were generally warmer than average across eastern parts of South Australia, but cooler than average in the northwest.
Padthaway saw it’s Highest April total rainfall for at least 20 years at 80mm for the month and for the SE, we had 65mm compared to a previous 5 year average of 15.5mm.
April 2017 was also recorded as SA's tenth-wettest April on record with the rainfall double the April average for SA as a whole.
Jeff Flint from Wirrega Vineyards said that the wetter season presented challenges for grape growers throughout the Limestone Coast.
“The Mundulla Vignerons escaped relatively unscathed as we missed the heavier falls that some other areas experienced.
“This lessened the disease pressure enough to harvest our crops.
“While we had significant rainfall during April it was the accumulated effect of other seasonal events which culminated in the final result.
“A cooler and wetter spring delayed growth from the beginning and as the summer was relatively mild we didn’t see any acceleration of phonological progress for the rest of the season.
Mr Flint said that grapes were anywhere from 10 days to a month later throughout the season depending on variety.
“The wetter, cooler spring and the wet soil profiles (which persisted into early summer) slowed growth initially but favourable weather through flowering and fruit set resulted in heavier crops due to increased bunch weights.
Mr Flint said that fruit ripening was just accelerating and reaching its fullness when the April rains came.
“By then earlier blocks were harvested but with a lot of fruit yet to pick, the ensuing demand on winery space, picking and transport logistics caused its issues.
“I’m pleased to say that with some hard work our growers had a very good vintage in what turned out to be a pressure race to the finish line this year.
The end of the vintage season marks a good beginning for other growers as the rainfall begins for the next season.
Peter Ellison who is an agronomist for Landmark in Keith and Tintinara said that the rains received in April led to an excellent germination of pastures and weeds.
“This means that most livestock producers have got through the whole summer and into autumn without having to feed out hay, whilst good knockdowns have been able to be performed in cropping paddocks.”
Mr Ellison also said that a number of growers were able to make a start to seeding on or close to the traditional Anzac Day timing, which is something that has eluded in recent years with a number of consecutive late breaks.
“If anything, the early rain caught some farmers out because the Bureau of Meteorology had been predicting a late break, so they were not prepared to capitalise on the early moisture.
“This was further compounded by the late running of last year's harvest which pushed a lot of jobs later into summer meaning that pre-seeding maintenance has been left to the last minute.
Additionally, with the anticipation of a reasonable drop of rain at the end of the week, Mr Ellison said it would set things up nicely for crops to get off to a great start.