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Rain hits waterlogged Darling Downs

Emma Alsop, March 28, 2022

Recent rain is making quality downgrades to sorghum and some mungbean crops likely. Photo: Peter Waddell

AFTER a month since heavy falls first halted harvest operations, Darling Downs growers were just experiencing some welcome sunshine when another weather system, bringing over 100mm of rain, fell over the weekend bringing further delays to farmers in the district.

The worst hit was the small township of Jondaryan which recorded 162mm overnight; with Bowenville receiving 107mm, Mt Mowbullan – in the Bunya Mountains – copping 108mm and 117mm falling at Bawnduggie, a locality north of Chinchilla.

Although small in comparison to some falls received earlier in the year, this latest weather event has hit properties which were just starting to dry out from the February rainfall.

Near Jondaryan, Formartin sorghum farmer Peter Waddell said he was able to harvest about two-thirds of his summer crop before the deluge.

“We made some pretty good progress in between the rains, but I know I am a lot better off than a lot off people,” Mr Waddell said.

“South and east of Dalby, there would be close to two-thirds of the crop still in the paddocks, maybe 40 per cent at the most done has been harvested.

“There is a huge amount still there.”

Although he experienced some losses, Mr Waddell said up until now the crop had maintained its quality.

“We definitely lost tonnes from it, because grains have shattered out of the heads and fallen on to the ground in some areas.

“Quality wise it has definitely been better than most people thought up until now; whether it deteriorates a bit after this I’m not quite sure.”

Mr Waddell said he believed this season has been one of the wettest he has experienced, with the rainfall totals above the 2010-11 weather event.

“If we compared the whole summer season from October to now, we are definitely wetter than 2010-11 in totals”

He said his property had received 812mm since October and only recorded 740mm in the same six month period in 2010-11.

Fears for mungbean crop

Sorghum and mungbean farmer near Pittsworth, Peter Bach said his operation, Kurilda Ag, has escaped much of the damage due to the timing of his planting.

With most of his sorghum harvested and mungbeans still a few weeks away, he hopes there will be minimal damage to his crops.

“We waited until early January to plant our mungbeans, which is the only reason ours is still green, so we are hoping they are still okay,” Mr Bach said.

However, he said he is staying positive and remembering the 2019 season which was very dry on the Downs.

He said the rain and high soil moisture should make for a decent winter crop.

“I will never complain about rain.

“In the whole scheme of things, it’s shaping up in a good direction.

“Bring on winter.”

AgForce Grains president Brendan Taylor said he predicted that mungbeans crops would be the worst affected by the recent rain.

“There is a lot of mungbeans that were very close to harvest; that is the crop that is probably most at risk from significant damage from a big fall of rain,” Mr Taylor said.

“There could be some extremely sad stories come out of mungbean crops that were either being harvested or very close to harvest, because they are very easily weather damaged with big falls of rain.

“Until people get on the paddock and have a look, it is too early to tell what the damage might be, but on the back of the rain we have had I’d be surprised if there is not significant damage on some of these crops.”

Mr Taylor said with the high price of mungbeans, any downgrade to the crop could become considerable losses for the farmer.

“It is valuable at $1000 to $1200 a tonne, and you don’t have to lose a lot of mungbeans to lose a significant amount of money given their value.”

“If they are really downgraded and get mouldy and split, and become stockfeed, then you a talking $200 tonne.

“So that’s $1000 crash in price; that could be the reality for some of these beans that were all but ready for harvest.”

Delays expected to winter planting

Condamine farmer Jake Hamilton said he was on the countdown to the winter-crop planting, but after about 70mm of rain fell on his property at the weekend, this may be pushed back.

“We were hoping to start in about two weeks but that will probably be delayed now, judging by the amount of water around the place,” Mr Hamilton said.

“We have a full [soil moisture] profile plus 300 per cent.”

Despite the “wettest summer in a decade”, he hopes to have some winter crop planted in the coming months.

“We will probably find somewhere where we can plant, because we have levelled a lot of country and it will dry out pretty quickly.

“We will just have to shuffle a few things around, make a few different plans and we will be okay.

“Some of this other country that will hold water, it won’t dry out for months so it’s going to be tricky to get planted.”

 

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