RISING WATERS: Cattle alongside Numulgi Creek, near Bexhill, which came close to overflowing its banks yesterday following heavy downpours over the long weekend. Pictures: Jay Cronan
RISING WATERS: Cattle alongside Numulgi Creek, near Bexhill, which came close to overflowing its banks yesterday following heavy downpours over the long weekend. Pictures: Jay Cronan

Farmers hoping for sunny change

TUNCESTER farmer Paul Weir has the motor on his baler running.

He is just waiting for the rain to stop so he can begin making silage.

In the 17 years the dairy farmer has been on his property he has never seen pasture like this before.

“It’s exceptional,” Mr Weir said.

But it is also frustrating because it is too wet to harvest.

Some farmers are resorting to bringing in extra stock to manage the growth.

Mr Weir said normally at this time of year farmers were irrigating and waiting for the first of the spring storms to fill their rainwater tanks.

If the farmers can get the pasture off in time they will make big savings on feed next winter.

Casino farmer Damian MacRae has 160ha of wheat and 40ha of barley he hopes to begin harvesting in about two weeks.

And while the crop is looking good, the rainfall is a concern.

Mr MacRae has his fingers crossed the rains will stop and the ground will dry out in time for the harvest.

And in horticulture, macadamia orchards across the region this season experienced excellent flowering, which has led to high hopes 2011 will produce a bumper yield. However, some farmers have already had their hopes dashed with reports of flowers collapsing from hard rain and hail.

Macadamia consultant Phillip McCarthy said it was still too early to tell if the 2011 yield would be affected.

The wet weather was likely to bring botrytis, or blossom blight, a fungal disease which resulted in low nut set.

However, Mr McCarthy said there was much variability in the degree to which orchards would be affected, due to micro-climates and the variety of nuts grown.

“After checking some of the orchards today I feel good at this stage about the amount of nut set that is holding on under the botrytis,” Mr McCarthy said.

The unseasonal rainfall is being caused by La Niña conditions and a negative Indian Ocean dipole – both cause increased rainfall – occurring simultaneously.

In the 24-hour period between 9am on Sunday and yesterday, Byron Bay recorded 205mm of rain – the highest recorded in the town at any time of year, although records only go back seven years.

During the same period, Evans Head recorded 223mm, making it the wettest October in 13 years.

 

Weather ahead

Today: A few showers, 16-24

Tomorrow: Shower or two, 17-24

Thursday: A little rain, 16-25

Friday: Shower or two, 15-22

Saturday: Shower or two, 14-22

Sunday: Shower or two, 14-22

October rainfall

(For seven days to 9am yesterday, Monday, October 4)

Ballina: 266mm; Bonalbo: 5; Byron Bay: 366; Casino: 54; Evans Head: 295; Grafton: 139; Kyogle: 23; Lismore: 163; Mallanganee: 33; Mullumbimby: 252



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