Drought to flooding rain
Wet impacts fresh produce growers in Queensland
SUNSHINE Coast growers and suppliers for the region’s restaurants and farmers’ markets are struggling to meet demand after months of almost drought conditions have been followed by a flood of rain.
The Brisbane Produce Markets have warned shoppers to expect prices, particularly of tomatoes – which have been cheap for months, to rise sharply along with cauliflower, capsicum, carrots, squash, sweet corn, zucchinis, potatoes and sweet potatoes, with digging and harvesting hampered by mud-soaked paddocks and the deluge of rain.
The wet has caused a slowing of fresh fruit and vegetables to the produce markets with a flow-on effect to prices paid at the counter.
Sunshine Coast growers have welcomed the rain but would, according to Bronywn Richards of Noosa Leafy Greens, have preferred to see it in more measured quantities.
Ms Richards said growers had gone a long time without water then it was everywhere, flooding growing tables and leaching them of nutrients and leaving lettuce and herbs flattened for days.
The lost nutrients would need replacing to maintain growth, which would come at a cost.
“We love rain,” Ms Richards said.
“But not too much at once.” She said discussions with Bundaberg suppliers suggested the price of potatoes was about to go through the roof after the region’s farms were completely flooded.
“We’ll be okay,” she said.
“It shocks everything and then takes two weeks to recover.”
The business supplies some of Noosa’s finest restaurants and is also usually a regular at regional farmers’ markets.
The rain did hurt though with her husband Stephen putting the initial replacement cost at $16,000, as well as not being in a position to supply regular customers.
The farm grows lettuce, spinach, kale, coriander, rocket and other varieties with 25,000 plants normally on the go at any one time.
“Our rainwater gauge showed 500mm of rainfall; we’ve never experienced that here before,” Mr Richards said of the impact on their Lake MacDonald property.
“The rain has created a new channel in our driveway, such was the force.
“Noosa Boathouse got the last of our good stuff.”
State Government officials were in central Queensland and the Burnett assessing damage to agricultural production caused by flooding and heavy rainfall last week.
Acting Agriculture Minister
Our rainwater gauge showed 500mm of rainfall... — Stephen Richards
Anthony Lynham said Department of Agriculture and Fisheries staff were meeting with farmers on their properties to get a complete understanding of the problems faced by some of the state’s key food bowls.
Noosa Farmers Markets operator Shane Stanley said the weather had been good news for those who had waited for the rain to come before planting, while others who had managed to get crops in earlier had lost bits and pieces.
“Some crops will fare better than others,” he said.
“For mangoes from here to Bundaberg, the rain has come at a bad time.”
Mr Stanley said he expected prices at the farmers’ markets to remain relatively stable, with growers generally following the ethos of charging the real cost of growing their produce rather than cashing in on fluctuations based on supply and demand.
DAMPENER: Stephen Richards with a small portion of his lost greens, which were exposed to extreme heat then heavy rain.
Stephen Richards’ healthy rows of greens before the rain destroyed the crop.