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Central Queensland farmers devastated as million dollar crops washed away

Amy McCosker, Tuesday April 11, 2017 - 14:13 EST
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Colin Dunne stands in what remains of his corn crop. - ABC

Farmers in central Queensland have been left shocked after extensive flooding in the region destroyed millions of dollars worth of crops.

Corn, sorghum, mungbean and cotton crops were inundated when heavy rain in the north generated by Cyclone Debbie caused the Mackenzie, Dawson and Isaac rivers to swell quickly west of Rockhampton.

General manager of the Woorabinda Pastoral Company David Hughes said the crops on 'Foleyvale Station' had been totally wiped out by the flood.

"We know we've lost a bit over 6,000 acres [2,428 hectares] of summer crops with a value, at today's prices, of around $3.8 million worth," he said.

"I guess we expected the worse and hoped for the best.

"It could have been worse … but as far as damage to the crop, it couldn't take any more because there is no more to take."

It is a story repeated again and again along the Apis Creek Road where the surge of water not only tore some crops from the soil but sat over others for days, drowning the plants.

Colin Dunne from 'Sorrell Hills' has lost his whole cultivation of 2,225 hectares of mixed cropping after up to six metres of water ran over it all.

"My mungbean crop was looking beautiful before the flood.

"There's nothing left except a lot of mud and a paddock ready to plant to chickpeas in," he said.

"My corn was well over your head, just starting to get cobs and [now] it's just 6 inches off the ground."

Mr Dunne said he had to just keep working hard to make back what had been lost in the flood.

"We've used best practice here for a long time with plenty of ground cover and as a result you lose your crops but your country is still in good shape.

"[The soil] will recover and in a couple of years we'll be back to normal again."

Broader impacts on grain industry

The farmers along the Apis Creek Road produce a significant portion of the central Queensland's summer grains and the broad scale loss of those crops will cause issues.

Grain trader Jean Cottam said businesses like feedlots and dairies would have to get their feed from elsewhere.

"There was roughly 3,000-4,000 hectares of beans, 500 hectares of corn and about 2,000 hectares sorghum as well as the cotton that was growing there too," she said.

"End users will probably have to pay an extra $50 or so per tonne in freight to be able to source from further afield.

She said with mungbeans, the local processors would have been relying on those bean and that will be now void.


© ABC 2017

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