Skip to comments.Drought-stricken Aussie farmers dance in the rain
Posted on 06/12/2005 11:17:33 AM PDT by Issaquahking
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian farmers have been dancing in the rain as downpours delivered the first soaking falls in over four years to large parts of drought-ridden eastern Australia.
The rainfall would be enough to allow many farmers to plant their winter crops after months of waiting, New South Wales Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said on Saturday.
Australia, the world's second-largest wheat exporter after the United States, is a major supplier to Asia and the Middle East.
"Farmers are out dancing in the rain," farmer Chris Groves told Reuters by telephone from his prime wheat-growing area at Cowra, 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of Sydney. "This rain has the potential to save our winter cereal crops. There's still a good planting window available for people to sow and all we need now is good follow-up rain," he said.
Australia's eastern farmers have endured three months with barely a drop from the sky. Some areas have not even begun to recover from Australia's worst drought in a century, which destroyed crops and caused a mass slaughter of livestock in 2002.
That drought never broke in some far-inland areas of eastern Australia.
Farmers in country towns, dustbowls a few days ago, happily trudged through brown rivulets of rain water running through streets and fields.
Some held hats to the sky in quiet gestures of thanks.
On the edge of the Outback, the far western New South Wales town of Ivanhoe received one of the best falls on Friday and Saturday of around 50 millimeters (2 inches).
"That'd be the best rain that we've had here since November 12, 2000," Ivanhoe property owner John Vagg told ABC radio. "It's actually drought-breaking rain -- its absolutely a tremendous fall."
The rain came just days after Australia officially slashed its forecast for the next wheat crop by almost 30 percent. However, wheat planted up to the end of June, although sown late, can still yield good crops.
Up to 50 mm of rain fell on Saturday in a sweeping band along a 1,500 kilometer (930 mile) front, from Adelaide in South Australia, through Victoria and into western New South Wales.
"Those that have dry-sown are going to get a great fillip," Macdonald said on ABC radio in reference to farmers who plant seed in dry ground in the hope that rain will fall to produce an otherwise-doomed crop.
Brown hills and valleys throughout Australia's grains belt, unusually quiet in recent weeks as farmers prayed for rain, will now turn frantic as growers sow their crops.
On the border between New South Wales and Victoria, leading wheat farmer Angus Macneil said most of his farm will be sowed as quickly as possible.
"We might get going tomorrow afternoon, but more likely Monday," he said. "And then we'll be going 24 hours a day."
Prime grain-growing areas throughout New South Wales and Victoria also received good Saturday falls of up to 30 mm.
Recipients included the Cowra-Dubbo-Parkes region in New South Wales and the northeast of Victoria.
Victoria's Mallee and Wimmera wheat-growing areas received good falls on Friday.
More rain forecast for the next week or so would really set up winter crops, farmers said.
But much more was needed throughout winter to fill dams and ensure enough irrigation to support the next summer's crops, Macdonald said.
Very dry areas in south-east parts of New South Wales, including Goulburn which is getting close to running out of drinking water, had received some rain but missed the heaviest parts of the downpour, they said.
"We're just about prayed out," Mayor Paul Stephenson said.
Don't know where you live in a land down under, but hoping you are benefiting by this water!
Farm ping for down under
Looks like the water shut off at then very end of the Clinton Administration, so you can't blame it on Bush....
I wonder how Clinton arranged that?
A farmer suffering through a drought is one of the most helpless feelings in the world. I'm happy for the Aussie farmers.
Aussies....are our Friends.....God Bless them with all the rain they need........
Wonderful news! After living through 100 day drought in Texas the one year we lived there I understand their joy! Can't imagine a drought that lasted so long. I had no idea. Guess I should pull my head out every once in awhile and look around, huh? :o)
Ping! Aussie going up, perhaps =-]
Thanks for the thought, I'm delighted for the farmers of course, but where I live on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, it is very rarely dry. See bio page for pictures.