Positive start for North Queensland growers

North Queensland monsoon trough, ex-TC Esther bring welcome rain

Weather
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Horticulture and cane growers have received one of the brightest starts to the season in some time, thanks to soaking rain along the coast.

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Four-year-old Nathaniel Pedracini enjoying the rain on Scartwater Station, Charters Towers. Picture: Terrie Pedracini

Four-year-old Nathaniel Pedracini enjoying the rain on Scartwater Station, Charters Towers. Picture: Terrie Pedracini

North Queensland's horticulture and cane growers have received one of the brightest starts to the season in some time, thanks to soaking rain along the coast.

Canegrowers Mackay CEO Kerry Latter said it had been a great start to the 2020 season for growers and, provided there was no extreme weather, was hopeful they were starting to build toward better years.

"It has been very pleasing for growers; we came off a slow start with a very dry end to 2019," he said.

"It was good for the crush but we needed to get the cane established and rain from December and now is a great start for growers.

"I expect that when you combine Mackay Sugar and Plane Creek we should have a better crop in 2020 than we did in 2019."

Mr Latter said growers were happy with the rain that has fallen and their soil moisture profiles on-farm.

"We've had some very good falls ranging from the high 100 to 200mm right up to beyond 300mm," he said.

"In most cases it has been steady, soaking rain that continues to enhance the soil profile."

Bowen-Gumlu Growers Association president Carl Walker also reported falls of 100 to 200mm of good, continuous rain.

"It has been a good start to the year; certainly for land preparation you couldn't ask for better rain," Mr Walker said.

"Our sub-artesian water is being topped up quite well and most people are telling me their dams are being topped up very well."

Mr Walker said growers had either planted, or were starting to plant tomatoes, capsicums, pumpkins and melons. He said they were also getting close to planting beans and sweet corn.

"All we've got to do now is to grow some product and for coronavirus to not affect the sales and the labour force."

In most cases it has been steady, soaking rain that continues to enhance the soil profile. - Kerry Latter

The Pedracini family at Scartwater Station, Charters Towers, were among those celebrating after receiving a fall of 25mm on Monday.

"We've had well over seven inches [178mm] from the start of the year," Terrie Pedracini said.

"Most dams are full, the river has run and the grass came away beautifully."

Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Alex Majchrowski said the deepening of the monsoon trough had generated the rain along the North Queensland coast.

Mr Majchrowski said the heaviest totals on Monday included Toomulla, just north of Townsville, which received 204mm and Rollingstone received 129mm.

"The rain was due to wind convergence along the north tropical and central coast," he said.

Esther arrives

On Monday afternoon, Tropical Cyclone Esther made landfall in the Gulf of Carpentaria before transitioning into a deep tropical low.

Mornington Island received 51mm, 139mm was recorded at Westmoreland Station, and Floraville received 52mm.

Wind gusts of 87km/h were recorded at Mornington Island and 65km/h at the Richmond airport.

Tim Pratt, Pratt Cattle Transport, Julia Creek, received 40mm at his depot.

Mr Pratt said on the back of previous falls received earlier this year the district would certainly benefit.

"It really was getting very ordinary around here, and the rainfalls are still patchy," Mr Pratt said.

He was recently loading cattle out of the Kynuna district and said they still needed rain there as there is not much grass.

Mick Clark, Ibis Creek Station, Mt Coolon, was delighted to receive 63mm on Monday night.

"We certainly needed this rain as we were missing out," Mr Clark said.

"It has all been storm rain this year, we got 83mm for January and a follow up of 49mm after that, then this fall.

"This latest rain event will give us both grass and dam water runoff and set us up for autumn.

"Some more before winter would be perfect."

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