Dave Kirby in one of the worst areas of flood damage to his macadamia nut trees.
Dave Kirby in one of the worst areas of flood damage to his macadamia nut trees. Mike Knott

A tough year on the land

BUNDABERG'S horticulturalists could be forgiven for breathing a collective sigh of relief after weathering one of the most trying years on record.

Farmers have been eager to plough their properties afresh and put the wide-spread flooding and heavy rain of earlier this year behind them.

If there was one thing on the Christmas wish list of local farmers, it was for a return to normalcy next year and a return to average, or slightly below average rainfall.

Local growers have reported a year of mixed results, with the aftermath of heavy rain and flooding earlier this year clearly visible as they calculate their yearly profit margins.

Growers not affected by the floods still had ongoing problems from highly elevated rainfall levels to contend with.

Increased disease and pest presence, problems harvesting in boggy conditions and rain damage to crops combined to spell disaster for many growers.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers executive officer Peter Hockings said many growers were still struggling to get back on their feet after a horror start to the year.

"Growers are still struggling out there," he said.

"We're looking forward to a year of more positive outcomes for the industry."

Bundaberg and Childers farmers based close to the Burnett River and Splitters Creek could only watch when the Burnett River broke its banks.

Flooding wreaked havoc on the Bundaberg and Childers sugar farmers with floodwaters affecting roughly 20% of the supply area for Isis Mill and 15% of cane plantations used to supply Bingera and Millaquin mills.

The region's small crop growers had one of their three growing cycles ruined by abnormally high rainfall and their annual income effectively cut by a third.

Macadamia farmer Dave Kirby likened the flooding on his Sharon property to an inland sea, which reached depths of up to six metres and lay stagnant for four days.

In some areas, only the uppermost tips of Macadamias could be seen above the debris-ridden flood waters.

Mr Kirby estimated that about 23,000 trees suffered damage during the natural disaster, at a total cost of about $75,000.

Grape and citrus growers in the North Burnett region were among the hardest hit when the flood waters rose.

Gayndah grower Jason Emmerton watched as floodwaters washed over his property, completely submerging more than 1500 citrus trees.

"It was just a sea of water out there," he said.



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