Wet weather causing uncertainty

DEEDI extension officer Susan Maas said weather impacts have forced changes to predicted yields.
DEEDI extension officer Susan Maas said weather impacts have forced changes to predicted yields.

THE DEPARTMENT of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation has been forced to update its forecast on the value of Queensland primary industries for 2010-2011 on the back of recent natural disasters that hit the state.

Despite 80% of Queensland being declared a disaster zone during the worst of the December/January floods, DEEDI predicts only a 4% drop from previous estimates on gross value of production for the year.

That is a reduction of $629 million from $14.39 billion, bringing the new total to $13.76 billion.

Total losses from recent natural disasters are estimated to sit at $1.7 billion. These include impacts from the rain that downgraded the winter crop harvests in the second half of last year, the major flooding in December to January, and then severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi.

DEEDI extension officer Susan Maas said weather impacts on both last year’s winter and summer crops resulted in the need to change initial forecasts.

“The extended wet weather had a big impact on the winter crop and brought about several yield and quality issues,” she said.

“Similarly, recent heavy rainfall and inundation caused major problems for summer crops.”

Wheat is expected to take a 33% hit in value after being downgraded to $330 million. Cotton production is predicted to decrease by 7% to $660 million due to flooded crops and prolonged water logging in Central Queensland and the Darling Downs regions.

“A big portion of Central Highlands cotton was affected by floods and harvest yields will be varied by the amount of rain and water each crop has been exposed to,” Mrs Maas said.

“We lost about 30% to flooding, but the fact that more was planted means it should equal out in the end.

“We’re probably going to get the same amount of bales out of the Central Highlands as we did last year, due to a much larger contribution coming from northern areas this time round.

“But then again, more rain will mean more yield and quality issues.”

Sugarcane producers from north Queensland were the worst affected out of primary industries, with a $300 million decrease in value from $1240 million to $940 million.

Bananas were downgraded 22% to $280 million whilst tomatoes went the other way and are predicted to increase by 15% to $271 million.

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