Austchilli farm manager Craig Hall is hoping for a downpour soon after a frustrating period that has yielded little rain from the skies.
Austchilli farm manager Craig Hall is hoping for a downpour soon after a frustrating period that has yielded little rain from the skies. Murray Wenzel

Not much water to play with

THE gloomy skies that dominated the region during the weekend resulted in no more than increased frustration for farmers.

Just outside of Bundaberg on Goodwood Road, Austchilli received 5mm of rain, while Tinaberries’ summer passionfruit crop finished with the grand total of 1mm.

“It was just enough to water the dust,” Austchilli managing director David DePaoli said.

“It’s a very frustrating time for us, watching the rain heading towards us, but again and again it doesn’t seem to make it.”

In a move that characterises the state of the times, Mr DePaoli yesterday travelled to Brisbane to meet with Rodney Industries to discuss irrigation alternatives for 2010.

“We need to look at other alternatives for drought-proofing our farms,” Mr DePaoli said.

“It’s no use tilting your head at the sky, or relying on water allocations, because that might not be enough.”

A decent shower is five times more beneficial to crops than the trickle irrigation used at Austchilli, according to farm manager Craig Hall.

“Nothing can compete with a good shower. All of us farmers are in the same boat and need some good rain. Things will stop out here if we don’t get any and allocations don’t pick up.”

About 30mm to 40mm fell in the Fairymead area on Sunday night, while 35mm was recorded at Moorlands Road.

But for the majority who missed the patchy downfalls, Bundaberg Canegrowers president Allan Dingle it was a case of more misery in an important time for all growers.

“It’s devastating for them. In general terms it’s been an extremely dry period aside from some isolated pockets that have had reasonable rainfall,” Mr Dingle said.

“Good falls in this period would set up canegrowers for a great 2010, but falls this year have been down compared to other years.

“With the way sugar prices are, it’s disappointing that we haven’t had the good rain to back it up.”

Tina McPherson, co-owner of Tinaberries, was another left ruing the patchy rains.

“Our passionfruit got 1mm. The rain passed right around us, which it seems to be doing fairly often these days,” she said.

But their green mulch crop, used to fertilise next season’s strawberries, was hit with a good downpour.

“We had about 25 to 30mm at the farm on Zinks Road,” she said.

“That will help our strawberries next season, but we would have loved more on our passionfruit.”



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