Farmers hope for rain
THE snakes say it will rain. The finches are not so confident, according to Kia Ora's Greg Jess.
And, as desert winds fan flames and dry out crops across the state, vegetable growers like Mr Jess are being just a little cautious about what they wish for.
His stud Droughtmasters are happy enough, as their name should imply, but he says he and his neighbours are quickly getting to the stage where they need rain for crops - just not the deluge and the hail they experienced early in the year.
Some will be a lot worse off than his Cormac Road “Motovation Farms” operation.
He at least has some underground water storage, still untouched, for emergencies. Others will find the going gets harder as the desiccating conditions continue.
And the Bureau of Meteorology says the dry weather is expected to do just that - continue through to later in the week.
“I think there's rain not too far away,” he said.
“Sometimes you get better beans when it's a bit dry, but you get a more profitable crop if there is some water,” Greg Jess said yesterday.
“There's been a lot of snake movement,” he said, explaining that “when you get a bit of that, I've found that it's a sign that there's a bit of rain on the way.
“Within about two or three weeks you get some sort of reasonable downpour. It's just something we've learned over the years here.”
It is a forecasting system which, he says, “hasn't let me down yet”.
The ground finches, however, are not so sure.
“We haven't seen the finches nesting yet, so that's a worry,” Greg said.
“Normally we'd have five or six pairs nesting but they haven't built any yet.
“They like to get established to take advantage of seeds and new growth after rain.”
He says solid set irrigation, with permanently mounted pipes, means he can irrigate at night and get the maximum soakage out of the water “without people running around chasing up piping.
“We grow beans, spuds, some turnips, seedless watermelons.
“We're not really affected (by the dry weather) yet, because we have a bit of underground storage which we haven't touched yet - and we don't usually touch it.
“You get better beans when the weather's a bit dry, but you get a more profitable crop if you get a bit of moisture.
“Our crops at the moment are looking fairly well, but we had 500mm in January and at Easter, we had 300mm in three hours, so we don't mind if we don't get a repeat of that.
“We lost six or eight weeks of picking due to excessive rain, so we don't want big heaps. Just 25mm a week would be beautiful,” he said.
The official forecast for the Gympie region is for continuing dry conditions, moderating south westerly winds and a very high fire danger.