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Much-needed rainfall breaks drought for Proserpine sugar cane farmers, grower says

By David Sparkes and Sophie Kesteven, Monday January 4, 2016 - 15:11 EDT
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Sugar cane farmers in Proserpine have received a long-awaited downpour. - ABC

Drought-stricken sugar cane farmers in north Queensland have celebrated the new year with some much needed rainfall, according to the chairman of Cane Growers in Proserpine, Glenn Clarke.

Mr Clarke said cane farmers in the Proserpine district had received between 50-100 millimetres of rain around Christmas and the New Year — enough to break their drought.

"It is a welcoming start and hopefully it will keep raining on and off," Mr Clarke said.

He said the region was a little bit behind the historic schedule in terms of rainfall, because farmers in the area usually received reasonable storms around November and December.

According to Mr Clarke, if the area received additional rainfall from now through to May, it would give farmers an opportunity for a good crop.

Rain saves crops and money

When people think about drought-stricken farmers they focus on how much the rain could helps a farmer's crop.

However, Mr Clarke said part of the blessing was how much a farmer could save by not irrigating, given the cost involved in using electricity to run pumps to water crops.

Mr Clarke said before the recent rainfall, cane growers had been worrying about the financial impact the lack of rain was having on them.

He said not irrigating for one week could save farmers thousands of dollars.

"The rain we had now will probably last growers 10 days. Rain is free compared to the cost of energy like diesel or electricity," he said.

More rainfall predicted for region

Bureau of Meteorology weather forecaster Diana Eadie said the bureau was predicting heavier rainfall to start making its way south.

"We are looking at areas slightly further south, such as St Lawrence, Rockhampton and Gladstone, which are going to see the heavier falls and gradually it is going to push off the coast," Ms Eadie said.

She said in the coming weeks the bureau expected coastal fringes of north Queensland to receive isolated showers.

"Wednesday, Thursday and Friday you will see most of those showers from Bowen to the border of New South Wales," she said.

"If you look further inland from [Mackay] it is going to be later this week, but most of that will dissipate before it gets close to the coast."

She said Mackay could expect warmer temperatures during the week, particularly on Wednesday, and things would start to cool down again in time for the weekend.


© ABC 2016

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