The end of another sun baked day in Bundaberg.
The end of another sun baked day in Bundaberg. RON BURGIN

Bundy's driest six on record

FRUIT and vegetable grower John Manera is enduring the driest six months he has experienced since he started farming in the district.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” he said.

“I’ve been here 37 years and it has been one of the worst.”

In fact, according to Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) rain fall statistics, the past six months have been the driest on record.

Since July only 107mm have been recorded in the Bundaberg Aero rain gauge — the lowest by far since BOM started counting in 1942.

Strangely though, with the calendar year drawing to a close, the overall rainfall recorded does not paint a necessarily scary picture.

A total of 812mm has fallen at the Bundaberg Aero site, 86% of the average annual fall since 1942.

This is compared to Maryborough, who have recorded just 61% of their average in 2009.

But the fact so much of that rain fell in the first six months of 2009 crushed growers’ hopes and left them praying for late rain and an increase in water allocations.

Less than 7mm fell in the months of July, August and October, leaving the current half-yearly total at less than a quarter of the average six month rate.

“It’s been quite dry this year, but at the same time quite variable,” BOM meteorologist Claire Webb said.

“We’ve had some big rain in places but none in others.”

Mr Manera owns and leases several farms across the district, and he said the rainfall had been very patchy.

“In some areas we’ve had 75 to 80mm in the past month, and in others it’s been only 20 to 30mm.

“What rain we’ve had certainly helps – rain always helps.”

The lack of rain is also hitting Mr Manera, who grows tomatoes, capsicums, cane and macadamias, with a hefty blow to the hip pocket.

“We’ve been watering for two and a half months non-stop, the cost is enormous,” he said.

And he is not alone.

Earlier this week Austchilli farm manager Craig Hall lamented the state of his produce after a severe lack of rain, while Bundaberg Canegrowers president Allan Dingle knows better than anyone just how bad the shortage is for next year’s harvest.

The meteorologist did offer some post-Christmas hope, predicting a wet finish to the year.

“There will be more activity in the form of thunderstorms and widespread showers,” Mrs Webb said.

“That rain band is expected to come across after Christmas time so the totals should improve before the end of the year.”

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