Granite Belt farmers consider carting water for third year due to drought

This article was originally published on this site

There will be fewer fruit and vegetables produced in one of Australia’s key growing regions again this year, due to the ongoing drought.

Angus Ferrier, the head of the Granite Belt Growers Association, said despite rain in February, about 85 per cent of farmers were still in drought.

He said some apple growers were considering carting water for the third year in a row, which was unheard of.

“It’s a highly undesirable decision to have to make.

“The problem will be that [the apple growers] need a reservoir of water ready for them in spring, so they need to start that process early.

“If they wait until they need the water, they physically won’t be able to get enough trucks on the road to supply it, so these decisions will need to be made soon.”

An apple on a tree.An apple on a tree.
Apple growers will have to make decisions soon to ensure they have enough water for their trees in spring.(ABC News: Jeremy Story Carter)

Mr Ferrier said the rain in summer was patchy, and left many farmers with dry dams.

“Unlike some growing districts, the Granite Belt is almost entirely reliant on on-farm storages,” he said.

“The southern end of the Granite Belt received much better rain, so down towards the New South Wales border some of the growers are reporting they have full water storages.

“Whereas no grower west or north of Stanthorpe has reported more than 50 per cent of their dams full, and their planning heading into the summer season relates to that.”

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Recent rain has brought relief from the drought for Stanthorpe, but the drought isn’t over(ABC Southern Queensland: Nathan Morris)

Mr Ferrier said farmers were hopeful the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast of above average rainfall in winter would come true.

“Even though we are being told we can expect an above-average chance of above-average rainfall, for a typically dry winter period that doesn’t necessarily mean drought-breaking rain.

“So while a wetter winter would be very welcome, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to see full dams at the start of September.”