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Unseasonal August rain brings a little relief to drought-ravaged Queensland

Queensland Rural Reporters, Tuesday August 19, 2014 - 09:25 EST
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With 75 per cent of Queensland drought declared, landholders welcomed the predicted rain, however it did not deliver for everyone. - ABC

Unseasonal August rain has provided a much needed boost to many parts of drought-affected Queensland.

Rainfall records were broken in parts of south-west Queensland as a broad line of moisture over the weekend saw water in rain gauges from the north tropical coast, inland towards Longreach and south into the eastern Channel Country.

However, some of the most needy areas of the state have again missed out on decent totals; grain growers on the Darling Downs have reported receiving between 10 and 20 millimetres.

Rain not enough to save grain crops in southern and central Qld

With winter crops in around southern Queensland, many had hoped this rain would be the helping hand that would push them through to harvest.

Senior agronomist at Landmark Paul McIntosh says some crops are too far gone for this rain to be helpful.

However, he says it's a good opportunity to plant crops for stock feed.

"It is going to help some crops there's no doubt about that, some are too far gone in other words the dry and the cold have taken their toll.

"While they haven't been fed they're really struggling and half dead, so they might not take it in

"But there's some decent crops around... it'll give those people who've got some oats and hungry cattle and livestock around the ridges a bit of a chance to feed them and get a bit of green pick on the pasture land or their old oats paddocks we hope."

Mr McIntosh says growers would be best planting stock feed crops like oats, barley or wheat on this moisture, because temperatures in southern Queensland are still too cold to start planting summer crops.

In Central Queensland, the heaviest rain fell south and south west of Gladstone.

Captain Creek saw 52 millimetres, 28mm fell at Rannes and there was 58mm at Blue Hills.

Andrew Bate from Bendee Farming at Gindie, near Emerald, had around 25 mm, and he says he's heard similar reports from around the area.

"Most of the wheat's finishing up with a big hurry and I think header's are only a few weeks away now from moving into the wheat.

"I don't think the rain's going to help Central Highland's wheat crop much at all, it might help fill a few of the last grains.

"But certainly the chickpea it'll help that a little bit. An inch isn't going to transform the crop, but it'll help fill the pods and some of the later flowers, just finish the job off."

Rain delivers for parts of western Qld

The rain in western Queensland was enough to put smiles on some people's faces.

But what exactly the rain will do for the country, is a little unknown as rain in August is very unusual for the region.

Sadly in the north west and far west of the state there was no rain recorded.

But further south to Longreach there was 24 millimetres, 100km to the east falls of close to 50 mm were recorded at Barcaldine, and further to the south 40 mm fell at Tambo.

Overall though falls were patchy but Muttaburra grazier Stuart Bowden says he was happy with the rain in his gauge.

"We recorded 36 mm at the house but around the run it varied from 28 mm to 48 mm."

He says before the rain "it was absolutely dreadful" as the last wet season was rather dry.

"I don't think it [this rainfall] will do a great deal because it is coming from a very dry base, but if there is any chance of getting follow up rain, this will be a really good start."

Further south near Eulo, Jake Berghofer says he is hoping the rain will have a positive impact on the cattle market.

"We sold some weaners steers last week and just on the prospect of this change coming prices lifted quite significantly.

"So I can imagine this week and following weeks are probably going to be better again."

Records in south west Queensland were broken with Charleville and Cunnamulla both receiving their highest 24-hour rain totals for the month of August.

Cunnamulla received a soaking 60 mm and as much as 67 mm fell in Charleville.

Sugar mills at standstill but southern and central Qld mills welcome rain

All sugar mills along the central coast and in southern cane growing districts were interrupted over the weekend.

Reports of 90 millimetres were recorded at Childers and 117 mm fell at Isis.

For Maryborough canegrowers facing the driest season in living memory the weekend rain was an ironic twist.

August would typically be the driest month of the year but with upwards of 100 mm falling, the district has now recorded the highest August rainfall since 1902.

Stewart Norton says it's very interesting to compare this to other seasons.

"Just looking at the records for that period, 1901/1902, was also a very dry year and again followed by a very wet August.

"We seem to be seeing a very similar weather pattern this year," Mr Norton said.

There was at least 70 - 80 mm recorded in regions outside of Maryborough and the wet fields mean the crush has been delayed until Wednesday.

The rain may have come too late to have any significant benefits for the current crop yield, which is the lowest in almost 20 years, but will be very welcome for the thirsty and newly planted cane.

Further north in the central Coast growing district, Sarina recorded 81.5 mm on Saturday and between 30 to 50mm fell on growers in the Proserpine area.

Both of the Wilmar mills stopped over the weekend but are expected to kick into gear again tomorrow and Wednesday.

It's the same situation for the three Mackay sugar mills which didn't escape disruptions, with some farmers recording close to 50 mm.


© ABC 2014

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