Graziers keep eye on the sky
WINTER temperatures throughout south-west Queensland have unleashed record highs for the region, with local farmers and graziers hoping predictions of summer rain prove true.
Weatherzone meteorologist Graeme Brittain confirmed this week that July had been the hottest month on record for the area, and Australia had recorded its fifth warmest winter on record.
Mr Brittain said temperatures were “very much above average” with Queensland recording its second warmest winter, and hottest day-time temperatures for this time of year.
Owner, agent and auctioneer of TopX Roma Cyril Close said people were “hanging their hat on that prediction for more rain”.
Mr Close said the north-eastern Maranoa district had received some summer rain as Cyclone Debbie lashed Australia’s east coast at the end of March.
“It was only two to three inches of rain, but that’s what we’re living off. That’s what has got us through to now, and it did help grow some quality feed.”
He said the major effect on crops had been the lack of moisture.
“As far as the cattle, it hasn’t really done a lot of damage in the eastern Maranoa because the grass hasn’t been heavily frosted. There were a few light frosts, but not week after week.”
He said this meant the grass hadn’t lost it’s protein, and while it had been “knocked around” it was not as bad as it would have been during a severe winter.
He said the districts along the north-eastern Maranoa district – Injune across to Taroom — didn’t suffer as badly as the southern areas of Surat, St George and Cunnamulla, while towns along the highway, including Roma, Mitchell and Morven had fared more marginally.
“The southern areas are living off their winter rain from last year because they did not get that cyclone rain.”
James Stinson, a grazier 60km south-west of Roma on a property called Moonya, said he had only had 120mm of rain this year, but a “significant spring” last year had provided decent rain.
“The summer wasn’t too bad, but hot and dry. We got the edge of the cyclone and planted some oats which was still worthwhile,” Mr Stinson said.
“It’s getting pretty ordinary now. We’re not hitting panic stations yet but we’re watching the skies pretty closely. We’ve been here before, we’ll be here again, and we will manage it accordingly.
“We’ve got a couple of paddocks with a bit of feed and hopefully we’ll get through to the summer break … and the signs are positive.”
Mr Stinson said the cattle market had “come off its big high from earlier in the year” but compared to what it had been in the past “the vast majority of producers are still pretty happy”.
He said cattle producers further west and north-west were facing “a tough slog” and had depleted cattle levels because “it has been too dry, for too long”.
Seed-stock producer Matt Ahern’s property, Bulala, 40km south-west of Roma, entered winter with “a lot of dry feed” after receiving just 60mm of rain from Cyclone Debbie.
Mr Ahern said the property had had no secondary grass growth, no herbage during winter, and no beneficial rain since the cyclone.
“We’re really hoping for an early break in October, and that’s not too far away.”
He said the cows were receiving supplements as they hit the calving season to maintain their body condition, and he was hoping for rain to help feed the calves.
Weatherzone’s Mr Brittain said October and November should provide some relief with above average rainfalls expected through the state’s south.
WARM WEATHER: James Stinson on his property, Moonya, 60km south-west of Roma.