Heavy downpour required to save winter crop season

3rd October 2017 4:53 PM
DOWNPOUR NEEDED: Macalister farmer David Buckley need rain in the next fortnight to get a return on his crops. DOWNPOUR NEEDED: Macalister farmer David Buckley need rain in the next fortnight to get a return on his crops. Michael Doyle

WHILE the region was covered by grey clouds across the weekend, the little rain has left farmers fighting to save their winter crop season.

Hopes were high at the end of last week for significant rain, especially for wheat and barely crops which have struggled in the dry conditions.

Rain over the next fortnight is considered to be the last chance to salvage the season.

Macalister farmer David Buckley said the situation for farmers in the Western Downs was becoming desperate.

"It is pretty bad mate, if I do not get any decent rain in the next two weeks I will probably spray my wheat and barely crops,” Mr Buckley said.

"Everybody is doing it tough, especially those who are further west than us. It is tough for them.”

Mr Buckley said he was hoping for at least 40mm of rain over the weekend, but had only received 4mm by yesterday morning. Without rain he is expecting to get little to no return on his wheat and barley crops, which will add to issues he experienced last summer.

"If I do not get any return out of the wheat and barely it is going to financially hurt a lot especially after the disastrous season we had last summer,” he said.

The winter season has not been a complete disaster for Mr Buckley, who is expecting to receive a good return from his chickpea crop. The huge rain the region received after Tropical Cyclone Debbie has seen Mr Buckley's chickpeas flourish over the season.

"The chickpeas are doing well because they have a deeper roots system which is able to go into the subsoil moisture which is still left from the downpour after Cyclone Debbie,” he said.

If rain is to fall in the next two weeks, not only will it significantly help what has been a tough winter, but it will give farmers a good platform to begin their summer season. While rain for the summer crops is not imperative at the moment any rain in the next few weeks will be welcomed.

"There are some pretty big cracks in the ground which with a good downpour will allow the rain to go right into the ground,” Mr Buckley said.

"But big cracks means there is no moisture and it is very dry.

"We still have a window of time for rain to come for the summer crops as you can plant as late as January, but the earlier we get rain the better.”

Dalby was expected to receive over 20mm of rain yesterday, but the forecast for the next week suggest the majority of rain has passed.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Meteorology suggested Dalby would not likely see more than 10mm of rain for the rest of the week.

"(Until Sunday) Dalby is forecast to possibly receive 10mm of rain, but that figure is not concrete,” the spokesperson said.