TASMANIA’S parched East Coast is set for more rain relief this week after up to 90mm fell over three days last weekend.
The forecast is for a further 50mm to 90mm while some isolated areas could receive up to 120mm.
After the downpour, the Swan Valley Irrigation Scheme is also closer to opening.
Cranbrook grazier Adam Greenhill, from Gala Estate, was “absolutely” delighted with the burst of rain.
“We haven’t had rain since May. Over all of winter we only got 25mm at Cranbrook, but earlier this week we got 70mm and more is expected,” Mr Greenhill said.
Mr Greenhill runs a 4000ha diverse enterprise and vineyard.
“Rivers are flowing and any run-off will help fill our dams. The rain is not doing any harm to the vineyard.”
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster David Matthews said a low had passed to the east of Tasmania on Wednesday with conditions to ease as the low moved to the southeast and a cold front approached.
“This amount of rain December for the East Coast is unusual, but next week is expected to be quiet with little rain expected across the state,” Mr Matthews said.
In one of the state’s traditionally driest farming areas, Bothwell in the Central Highlands copped up to 110mm of rain over the weekend, waterlogging paddocks of poppies and stock feed.
Sheep and poppy farmer Will Bignell, of Thorpe Farm, said where he would lose in the cropping operation, his livestock would benefit.
Mr Bignell grows poppies, livestock feed, crop rape and runs about 8000 sheep.
“It’s a very challenging weather system, but this is the nature of the game. Hopefully it balances out, just have to keep moving forward and look for the opportunities,” Mr Bignell said. “We will lose a percentage of the poppies.”
His irrigated 160ha The Square copped 110mm over the weekend, with the 2400ha Thorpe farm receiving 80mm.
“Things are wet and wild. It’s an incredible volume of water, unprecedented. You can’t plan for 110mm in December.
Mr Bignell also operates a drone business and used them to create modelling to predict storm events on The Square.
“We dug 8km of drains midwinter when it was really dry and I am happy how they went. If I didn’t have the drains I would have been devastated,” he said.
About 90mm fell on cherry grower Mick Dudgeon’s 7ha orchard Stonecrest Cherries at Sorell.
“It was a bloody lot rain. I am feeling fortunate with little damage, but if it happened in couple of weeks time it may have caused more damage. Just need some sunshine to lift the trees again,” Mr Dudgeon said. “More rain this week is not welcome.”
Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager Phil Pyke said except for a few growers the rainfall was positive.
“Maturity index of the fruit means that it is not in the risk period at this stage,” Mr Pyke said.
The 2000ML Swan Valley Irrigation Scheme could soon be up and running on the East Coast. Mr Greenhill, who is on the irrigator committee, said with 1000ML in the dam Tasmanian Irrigation could start commissioning pipelines.
Swan Valley project manager Andy Corbould said the rain helped in filling the dam.
“Our focus has been on commissioning the pump station and with enough rain will be able to get through all the tests. With good rain that should take about a week,” Mr Corbould said.
“The scheme is built and ready to go, we have just been waiting on the rain.
“This recent deluge of rain is certainly good to get water into the dam and be ready for irrigating next season.”