VICTORIA is on track to record its driest January since 1932 - and the fourth driest since records began in 1900.
The drought-like conditions are sapping soil moisture and leading to a surge in demand for irrigation water.
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And while the remnants of cyclone Oswald - which has battered Queensland and northern NSW - brought some widespread rainfall to far East Gippsland and the eastern Riverina this week, it failed to penetrate the Great Dividing Range.
The Bureau of Meteorology says the state-wide average for Victoria this month is just 4.2mm.
Lake Eildon is yet to register any rain this year, while Hamilton and Horsham - at 0.2mm - have received less than 1 per cent of their January average.
Bendigo has received just 0.6mm, and Mildura 1mm.
BOM climatologist Blair Trewin said that with little rain forecast for the final few days of this month, he was confident January 2013 would land in the bottom 10 years for rainfall.
However, Mr Trewin said the dry weather was not related to El Nino.
"Of the five driest Januarys on record, two were during an El Nino and three were not," Mr Trewin said.
BOM meteorologist Chris Godfred said Oswald's remnants "ran down" the eastern coast of Australia but would still contribute high flows to the upper reaches of the Murray-Darling Basin and help fill storages.
Oswald's tail lashed far East Gippsland on Monday night, with rugged Combienbar recording almost 100mm, Mallacoota 40mm and Orbost 12mm.
Lower Murray Water managing director Ron Leamon said there had been "no effective rain" for a long time. "Even dryland farmers have had a difficult year through the winter," he said.
He said water use had spiked recently, with urban use 25 per cent higher than last year and irrigation use up 25-30 per cent.
"Irrigation customers are saying this is one of the worst years in the past 10 or 15 years where they've had to apply a lot of water to keep their production going, particularly for the table grapes," Mr Leamon said.
"They're struggling to get the moisture down to the subsoil because the hot temperatures just suck it out of the ground."
He said the high temperatures had sapped moisture from crops.
"The air is so dry," Mr Leamon said. "One night it didn't drop below 36C, so there's no morning dew either."
Victorian Farmers Federation president and Pyramid Hill farmer Peter Tuohey said graziers and broadacre farmers were coping with the conditions.
"It's certainly very dry, but ... people have plenty of irrigation water and the hot days are helping to get good growth," he said.
"We'll be looking for a good autumn break. In the past when we've had a hot summer we've had a good autumn break."
Hamilton livestock agent Bernie Grant, of LMB Linke, said while summer crops were being eaten down there was still paddock feed about. But farms south of Hamilton were faring better than those north.
"Most people have got a reasonable amount of water on hand but some are feeding out hay and grain already," Mr Grant said. "Normally they would start later in February."
Mr Grant said people would be looking for an early autumn break. "Every day it does not rain is a day closer to when it will," he said.