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'Green drought': high rainfall little help to farmers

Dairy farmer Martin Wilson said Calico Creek had seen little of the region's rainfall.
Dairy farmer Martin Wilson said Calico Creek had seen little of the region's rainfall. Renee Pilcher

HOT weather is known to create mirages, and for Gympie farmers the recent rainfall has in fact been nothing more than an illusion.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, more than 100mm has fallen in Gympie in the past week, including 16mm of rainfall in the past three days.

But while the numbers suggest relief has finally arrived, farmers across the region say the truth is vastly different.

"It is not worth talking about," Calico Creek farmer Martin Wilson said when asked if the rain had helped at his dairy farm.

RELATED: Farmer: dry conditions 'worst I've ever seen'

While the region had seen significant rainfall, Mr Wilson said the downpours had consistently managed to skirt Calico Creek.

Worse, the benefits of any showers which had appeared were quickly lost when the sun returned, leaving the area parched.

Even the water bores on his farm were sucking air, something he said he has never seen before in his 47 years experience.

"The ground is so, so dry."

 

More than 100mm has fallen in Gympie in the past week, but farmers say a lot more is needed.
More than 100mm has fallen in Gympie in the past week, but farmers say a lot more is needed. Blainey Woodham

Taking into account the heavy falls in other areas, Mr Wilson said the weather had not had any impact at all on helping the region recover.

"It's done nothing at all to help with the drought situation," he said.

"To do widespread good it's got to be a long period of rain."

Small crop farmer Ross Sims echoed Mr Wilson's beliefs, saying the high rainfall numbers were very much luck of the draw - only good if they happened to land on you.

"It's very isolated...you've got to be under it to get it," Mr Ross said.

One clear example of the huge discrepancy, he said, could be seen at his own property.

RELATED: BIG DRY: Gympie officially in drought

Although his house and farm are only 4km apart, within one day last week the gauge at his house recorded 6mm of rain, while his farm only registered 0.5mm.

Even the rain which had fallen was having little true effect, leaving everything lush but creating a "green drought".

"It might be green at the moment, but when the sun comes up it dries it all out.

"There's no run-off rain.

"It's not dam filling rain."

The scattered and isolated nature of the rain can also be seen in the BoM's own recording.

RELATED: Drought hits region's rural road network

Although the official Gympie gauge had not registered any rainfall in the 24 hours before 9am yesterday morning, forecaster Sam Campbell said other parts of the region had reported up to 12mm within the same period.

At Mt Kanigan, a storm on Saturday night dropped 80mm on the region but again Gympie recorded nothing.

 

Steven Waugh on his farm at Glastonbury.
Steven Waugh on his farm at Glastonbury. Renee Albrecht

Glastonbury farmer Steven Waugh said while any rainfall at all did help, it was ultimately ineffective when combined with the heat.

The consistently high temperatures, including those of 35 and 36 he recorded in the past week, have destroyed all of his seedling crops, effectively "cooking them in the ground".

"It hasn't really turned it around and it's still too hot.

"The temperatures are not helping at all."

Topics:  drought farming gympie rain weather

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