Pro­duc­tion still on track

Central and North Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY - Emma Clarke Queens­land Times

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%.

PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL

WA­TER SE­CU­RITY: Lock­yer Val­ley Grow­ers Group pres­i­dent Michael Sip­pel said re­cent rains were more help­ful than de­struc­tive for many farm­ers.

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