RAIN DANCE: Emerald’s Dougall Millar is one of many Emerald farmers hoping for rain.
RAIN DANCE: Emerald’s Dougall Millar is one of many Emerald farmers hoping for rain. Tara Miko Emeharvest

Central Highlands farmers praying to weather gods for rain

WHILE Emerald farmers are reporting average yields of spring crops, hopes continue the forecasted dry weather will break and bring decent rainfall by the end of the month.

Local agronomist Graham Spackman said producers were banking on a wet end to January for summer crops to safeguard against an unpredictable winter season.

"Fine weather has been beneficial to irrigated cotton (farmers) but even some of them are starting to run short on water," Mr Spackman said.

"In the last three years, we have had very wet weather (with) wet starts to the years.

"There was a very good winter crop last year, partly because it was a wet summer."

Dougall Millar, of Millar Farms, said the nine tonne per hectare yield on his 240ha crop was about average for irrigated sorghum, but he would certainly welcome rain once the harvest was finished.

"It has been an average season," Mr Millar said.

"But we do need rain.

"If the hot weather continues a lot of farmers will be out harvesting."

The Bureau of Meteorology's 2012 climate statement showed farmers across Queensland battled an abnormally wet winter, followed by drier conditions from September.

"The chances of receiving below median rainfall during January to March are between 60 and 70% over western Queensland," the climate report noted.

"Over the remainder of Queensland and the Northern Territory, the chances of a drier or wetter January to March period are roughly equal."

Mr Spackman said 50-100mm of widespread rain throughout the region would help farmers yield better crops, but the Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a drier than normal season.

"We need good summer rain to grow summer crops, or even to get set up for winter crops," he said.

"If we haven't had the rain by the end of January, farmers will have to seriously reconsider what to put in for the winter season.

"We just have to wait and see."


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