Production still on track
LOCKYER Valley vegie growers have not missed the chance to plant their winter crops despite significant weather events.
The majority of vegetable farmers welcomed up to 100mm of rain with open arms and empty creeks, putting the valley’s seasonal production in top form going into winter.
While financial aid is available for affected Lockyer producers, Lockyer Valley Growers Group president Michael Sippel says only a small number of farmers would need the support.
“We certainly do have growers who had areas of wash, they got their farms washed out, especially up in the top of the Laidley Creek there is a lot of wash and damage in those areas. Potato and lettuce crops were washed out of the ground,” he said.
“As a whole, growers were quite happy as we were able to pump water in Lake Clarendon and Atkinsons Dam. We didn’t get the damage the growers at Kalbar did, they had significant damage, but we were lucky.
“We probably had just the right amount of rain. If we had another say 50 or 100mm at the catchments, it would have been a lot worse.”
Mr Sippel said months of dry conditions had kept waterways low, with plenty of space for the deluge.
“We had 100mm across the region, which was well received, probably 80% of our growers were happy with the rain,” he said.
“Ninety percent of our production is not affected and it hasn’t even held us up from planting. The rain happened on Thursday and Friday and most of our growers were back planting again on Monday morning.
“Because it had been so dry for so long, the run we did get in the creek, it was running in a dry creek.
“You won’t see many gaps in production coming out of the Lockyer Valley. We’ve just started to plant our winter crops so we’ve got a full profile of soil moisture.”
He said the rain guaranteed local water security for the near future.
“It gives us good water security for another six months but beyond that we’ll be dry again,” Mr Sippel said.
“The bulk of the Lockyer Valley growers were welcoming of the rain. It’s sad to see in terms of the amount of damage and heartache other growers are seeing but in our area, it probably gave us a little bit more water security.
“In a dry creek system it doesn’t go too far. We’re still in a green drought in a number of ways. If we get a fortnight without rain, we’re back to were we were.”
Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said Category B assistance meant eligible producers could receive freight subsidies of up to $5000 and have access to concessional loans of up to $250,000 for direct damage and up to $100,000 for essential working capital at a rate of just 1.16%.
WATER SECURITY: Lockyer Valley Growers Group president Michael Sippel said recent rains were more helpful than destructive for many farmers.