By HARRY CLARKE
FOR the best part of a week, corrugated iron roofs from the South West to the Lockyer Valley and across large parts of central Queensland sung the glorious song of soaking Spring rain.
Not all important cropping country in the upper Murray Darling catchment has had the desired drenching, but districts around Roma, Miles and Chinchilla in particular have all been set up nicely for the upcoming planting period.
For some the deluge interrupted harvests and even threatened entire crops, with one farmer lamenting that “it never rains, it pours”.
The wildest weather was felt at Roma, where powerful storms tore roofs off houses, felled trees and powerlines and left residents in the dark.
Some 146mm of rain fell over the town, according to rain gauge aggregator Oz Forecast. Thankfully most crop growers in the district had finished their Winter harvests by the time the heavens opened.
Further south around Surat farmers were underwhelmed by what was ultimately a rather lacklustre fall.
Steve Davies, based in Chinchilla, said a heavy downpour would have been the perfect lead up for next season at his block in Surat, but some growers barely had a drop.
“We got all the crop off, thank God, but the sad thing was there was only 4 to 5mm in places out there,” Davies said.
“Some people were putting a heap of residual chemicals down which needs rain to wash it in and that didn’t happen.
“I think most of them got their crops off. Some people were panicking a bit and got extra headers. They had a good forecast and went like a cut cat.
“At Surat I need another 150mm before planting. Hopefully that happens by Christmas. I won’t plant now because we’ll probably run into that heat wave.”
Most of the big rain stayed north of the Warrego Highway as it swept east across the upper Murray Darling catchment.
Miles had 124mm, while heavy falls at Jimbour (122mm), Pirrinuan (154mm) and Dalby (138mm) caused flash flooding and cut roads all along the Myall Creek catchment.
There were nervous farmers around Goondiwindi, where close to 40mm fell the previous week and where follow up forecasts of up to 150mm would have all but spoiled a whole year’s work for some.
The Bureau of Meteorology had warned of moderate to major flooding in the McIntyre River catchment between Goondoowindi and Inglewood, but by the end of the week the threat had ultimately fizzled across to the north.
Scott Baker, of “Doonkami” at Yetman, said a large downpour would likely have destroyed both a wheat crop he had ready to harvest and a cotton crop that was only recently planted.
“It’s a massive relief that it didn’t eventuate,” Baker said.
“If we had any of the the rain that was forecast in our area, or upstream in the catchment that we’re on, we would have had a major flood for sure.
“It’s not very often as a farmer that you say you don’t want the rain, and you don’t like saying it.
“But at this time of the year, when you’ve got fresh crops planted and crops sitting in the paddock ready to be harvested, that’s definitely the case.”
Freshly planted sorghum will relish in the 86mm which fell over Nick Gordon’s property at Boonarga, near Chinchilla.
But Gordon was one of many still in the middle of a wheat harvest. He’s now hoping a solid week of sunny weather will dry the remainder of his crop before it spoils.
“We got about half the crop off but there’s about another 200 acres to go. It’s a bit of a later wheat crop,” Gordon said.
“We could have sprouting issues with the wheat, so that could knock it back from good quality wheat to even feeder wheat, depending on how bad the sprouting gets.
“I’ve seen a fair bit around Warra and Macalister that’s still got wheat that was ripe from two or three weeks ago.
“That would be starting to hurt a bit as far as getting weather and sprouting goes, especially in chickpeas – they’d be starting to become an issue.”