Gra­ziers keep eye on the sky

The Western Star - - NEWS - Louise Shan­non

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.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

WARM WEATHER: James Stinson on his prop­erty, Moonya, 60km south-west of Roma.

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