RE­LIEF POURS IN ON EAST COAST

Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

DROUGHT-stricken ar­eas of Tas­ma­nia’s East Coast could re­ceive their best rain in months to­day.

The Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy is fore­cast­ing falls of up to 100mm in parts of the South­East as a large low-pres­sure sys­tems de­vel­ops.

The whole state has re­ceived good rain­fall, with most ar­eas ex­pect­ing good to­tals for the week.

While the rain has come too late for spring pas­tures in many ar­eas, it is a wel­come re­lief for farm­ers suf­fer­ing a sec­ond year of record-low rain­fall.

Bruce Dun­babin, who farms near Swansea, said if the fore­cast rain ar­rived it would be the best fall since May.

“We had 18mm the other night, which is a good start,” he said. “We’re sig­nif­i­cantly down on our av­er­age rain­fall this year and the rain we’ve had has just soaked straight in.”

Mr Dun­babin said most farm­ers in the re­gion had had to re­duce stock num­bers as feed sup­plies be­came scarce.

“Most of us have de­stocked, but the good thing about that is the prices have been in our favour,” he said.

Mr Dun­babin is hop­ing the pre­dicted rain will pro­duce much-needed runoff.

“Stock wa­ter has started to be­come a prob­lem and I’ve had to set up a cou­ple of tem­po­rary troughs,” he said.

“Be­cause there’s been no rain the pas­tures have al­ready dried off, but this should help to freshen things up a bit.”

St Marys farmer Frank Giles said about 30mm of rain fell on his farm on Wed­nes­day and there was more yes­ter­day.

"It was nice to hear it on the roof, es­pe­cially be­cause it went pretty well all night," he said.

Mr Giles said the past two years on his farm had been the dri­est in more than a 100 years.

"I've had to sell 90 per cent of my stock, I've only got a few cat­tle left and a few sheep.”

He has also been forced to spend thou­sands of dol­lars on hay to feed re­main­ing stock.

"I don't think we'll get any runoff be­cause it has been so dry for so long, but any­thing is bet­ter than noth­ing," he said. "We're com­ing into sum­mer and with a bit of mois­ture there we might get some grass grow­ing, but it’s too late for a good spring."

Mr Giles said even though the rain was wel­come, with a po­ten­tially hot and dry sum­mer ahead it would still be a very tough sea­son for many.

“This rain prob­a­bly won't do much good as far as pas­tures are con­cerned be­cause it takes about three months for it to re­ally get go­ing and we’ll be in sum­mer then.

“We could still be feed­ing un­til spring next year.”

Cam­pa­nia farmer Brett Stokes said by yes­ter­day morn­ing his farm re­ceived about 13mm.

“It’s about six week too late, but at least it will put some mois­ture back in the ground.

“What we don't want is for it to all come down in one hit be­cause it can do a lot of dam­age.”

In the North-West, crop­ping farmer Mike Bad­cock said the falls had been just about per­fect yes­ter­day.

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