The viability of Australia’s biggest tea grower is under threat following a year of extreme weather that has decimated crops. Two severe frosts, followed by a prolonged dry period over the past 12 months, have decimated the Nerada tea plantation in Far North Queensland, wiping out nearly 50 per cent of the black tea yield, the company has revealed.
Five months after the unprecedented flood which turned parts of north west Queensland into a vast inland sea, producers are being asked to count the cost of the disaster. Graziers and producers from across the north are being asked to provide estimates of stock and infrastructure losses, as well as the support services which they accessed in the wake of the flood.
ABARES says its own analysis, based on industry estimates, places the number of cattle producers lost as a result of severe flood events in northern Queensland in late January and early February 2019 at 600,000. It also notes that recent saleyard data indicates that demand for young cattle for restocking is high in northern Queensland.
Pemberton potato grower Brett De Campo has ploughed in 120 tons of perfectly good potatoes this month and has given another 30 tons to a Busselton dairy farmer for cattle feed. He expects to walk away from another 120 tons before his harvest ends in mid-May, because of a glut in the market that has worsened since industry deregulation in 2016.
Sorghum has taken a hard hit, with farmers forced to bale some crops for feed. The ongoing drought conditions saw cropping greatly reduced around the region and staggered planting and harvesting. Agronomist Jim Hunt said crops planted in October suffered from low soil moisture and the summer heat while those planted in late 2018 missed the worst of it.
The deadly swine virus sweeping through eastern Asia, leading to the death of almost one million Chinese pigs, could potentially derail Australia’s pork sector if it infiltrates the nation’s borders, industry figures warn. African swine fever, a contagious viral disease lethal to pigs, continues to rattle the global market as it spreads across China, with about 950,000 pigs reportedly culled since about August last year.
The next 10 days will be dry in the central and western CornBelt, which is good for reducing the problem of excess water in the soil. 2010 and 2013 allow us to consider two scenarios for this year. In 2013, high soil moisture associated with low temperatures led on May 10 to corn planting delays of about 40 percent points compared to averages (28% vs. 65% on average).
North West residents are facing the prospect of one more late season cyclone two weeks after ex-severe tropical cyclone Veronica caused widespread flooding and thousands of cattle deaths across the Pilbara coast. The Bureau of Meteorology has advised a tropical low forming off the Northern Territory coast has up to a 50 per cent chance intensifying this weekend as it moves west into Kimberley waters.
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