By CAITLIN CROWLEY
DARLING Downs farmers desperately need sunny skies for the next month or so to get winter planting and what’s left of the summer harvest back on track, after more rain across cropping areas in recent days left paddocks looking like lakes again.
“It’s just a waiting game and hoping it doesn’t rain any more,” said Warra grain grower Brendan Taylor.
“It’s quite concerning actually that it’s so wet – many places have had 500mm of rain this year. That’s a massive accumulation of rain in five months.
“Realistically we need three weeks of warm, sunny weather to traffic machinery – that’s how wet it is. That’s to either finish harvesting sorghum or beans or cotton picking.
“Not that anyone enjoys drought but when it’s dry or drier you can always do something in the paddock. When it’s this wet you physically can’t do anything, you can’t move.”
Macalister crop farmer Stuart Schostakowski (pictured) said he was now at risk of missing out on a winter crop entirely, if the sun didn’t start shining.
“In those dry years, what we’d give to have 20mm to plant on come May, and now we’ve been getting 20mm every night here for the last week,” Schostakowski said.
“This is our ideal planting time now – end of May early June. That’s when if we could have a choice, we’d like to be doing something.
“If we haven’t got anything in the ground by then, we’ll go through to the middle of July if need be, but we’d prefer not to.”
Brendan Taylor said while very little winter crop has been planted due to the conditions, there are serious concerns what is out there won’t survive the latest drenching.
“I know in the Condamine down to St George and back to Thallon they were really worried about (crops) potentially being drowned and having to be replanted,” Taylor said.
Nobby farmer Belinda Callanan has already lost recently planted oats to the big wet.
“We planted a couple of weeks ago in between the rain and the dry patch we had, and now some of the oats has drowned,” she said.
“We’re not going to be able to get a planter anywhere near our paddocks for weeks, it’s just sodden.
“We can’t even drive the buggy down the road to the paddock, I’ve been jumping on the horse because it’s just so darn wet.”
And as if the wet weather wasn’t a big enough challenge, mouse numbers are creeping up again in some pockets of the Downs.
“We have seed sitting in our shed and trying to keep the mice out of it is a nightmare,” Callanan said.
“They’re not in bad numbers, but they’re still in damaging numbers.”
It was the threat of mice which prompted the Callanans’ decision to plant the oats which have now drowned in the paddock.
“It’s horrible at the moment,” Callanan said.
“People need to be aware, just because it’s raining there’s no gold in those paddocks.”