WE NEED MORE: Despite heavy rainfall dumping about 30mm more than January’s average, landowners like Matt Ahern from Romagnolia Beef Genetics said it has barely put a dent in the drought.
WE NEED MORE: Despite heavy rainfall dumping about 30mm more than January’s average, landowners like Matt Ahern from Romagnolia Beef Genetics said it has barely put a dent in the drought.

Family on brink of destocking for first time in 50 years

HEAVY downpours across the west has been a lifeline for many on the land, but some graziers are just weeks away from destocking their properties for the first time in over half a century.

During the Australia Day weekend a severe thunderstorm moved across the southwest and produced heavy rainfall soaking the drought-stricken region and led to flash flooding in several areas.

Two heavy rainfall days on January 17 and 25 gave the dry Maranoa much-needed reprieve, with 97mm recorded in Roma for January, up from the month's average of 67mm.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Alex Majchrowski said Roma received 45mm of rain over the Australia Day weekend, Wallumbilla received 17mm, Mitchell 0mm, Chinchilla 58mm, Tambo 22mm, Surat 9mm, Charleville 78mm and St George 11mm.

For Queensland horse trainer Craig Smith, if a second downpour doesn't occur soon, he will be destocking all his cattle for the first time since 1964.

"We have been running only 30 per cent capacity of our cattle at this time of year and if it doesn't rain in the next five weeks or so, we will destock down to 0 per cent."

Mr Smith said that the region needs triple this amount of rain to make a dent in the drought.

"This is the driest condition I've seen in 55-years in Wallumbilla," he said.

"I don't think it's ever been as long and widespread as the time now.

The trainer based between Roma and Wallumbilla said the weekend rain did however ease the situation on the land for many.

"I received between 63mm-69mm over the weekend, however, there's 4 kms between front and back of the property so some parts received the rain, and some didn't.

"It filled a little bit of the dam and gives the property a green profile which helps a bit, but we definitely need some follow up rain," he said.

Unfortunately for the land owners begging for rain, forecasters say that's all we might see for the month of January.

"Roma is expecting a decrease in shower and thunderstorm activity. Up until next Monday, there is slight to no chance of showers," Mr Majchrowski said.

Matt Ahern from Romagnola Beef Genetics reiterated that the country needs follow up rain to make a difference.

"We received 70mm rainfall since New Year's. The country is responding but it's slow and we need that follow up rain over and over.

"Annually, the average rainfall is 550mm and due to this low base, it's the driest on record at 112mm.

"However, the outlook is looking better than it was with this monsoon up north coming through," he said.

Similarly, Mr Ahern said another downpour needs to happen in the next month.

"The rain is going to mean a lot for the industry, even for those who don't receive it.

"Just availability of fodder and feed is getting dire.

"People had to be really on the ball for ordering hay etc so the rain should ease that a bit.

"We are fairly hopeful. The pattern is good with this humidity and moist atmosphere which is helping us," he said.

Regarding the average January rainfall, Mr Ahern said that these averages usually average out over time.

"We can look at the forecasts for the next 10 or so days, but until we get that rain, that's when it makes a difference," he said.

"The outlook is pretty good for us. This weather pattern has changed which is a hopeful sign."


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