Rain a relief, but the Hunter drought is not over yet

Hunter drought 2018: Maitland records its highest rainfall since March 2017


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Farmers say a lot more rain is needed to break the drought.

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Farmers across the Hunter were keeping an eye on their rain gauges as the first decent rain in months fell onto the earth.

But some were luckier than others. The deluge put 54 millimetres on the ground in Maitland – the most rain the city has seen since March 5 last year – while Dungog only had 22mm and Gresford received 30mm. 

SPLASHDOWN: Jaxson Martin, 3, having a ball in the puddles at Maitland Park on Tuesday. Picture: Marina Neil.

SPLASHDOWN: Jaxson Martin, 3, having a ball in the puddles at Maitland Park on Tuesday. Picture: Marina Neil.

North of the city at Jamie Marquet’s dairy farm in Wallarobba only 15mm fell. Vegetable growers Tom Christie and Dominique Northam, who are south-east of Dungog fared a little better with 25mm. 

The Stork family property at Glen Oak – which has no feed in the paddocks and only one dam that isn’t barren – received a whopping 45mm on Tuesday morning.

The water soon soaked into the earth, and while it wasn’t enough to break the drought, but it was a promising start.

“The drought hasn’t been broken, the rain was great but we need a hell of a lot more to see grass prosper and dams and creeks full,” Danny Stork said. 

Read more: How to help Hunter farmers battle the drought 

Read more: Drought drains hay, water, supplies

The deluge couldn’t have come at a better time for Pitnacree crop farmers Tom and Alex Woods who started planting their winter crops earlier this month. They have been gambling with high salinity levels in the Hunter River to keep their crops alive. 

Looking west to the Upper Hunter and there was also a little relief. Rachell and Arty Cox’s farm at Owens Gap – 25 kilometres west of Scone – had only 9mm while a little further west at Bunnan some properties recorded up to 30mm. 

RARE SIGHT: The Cox family property at Owen's Gap, near Scone, after some rain.

RARE SIGHT: The Cox family property at Owen's Gap, near Scone, after some rain.

She agreed it would take a lot more rain to break the drought. 

With temperatures expected to rise in Maitland and Dungog to 32 on Friday and 36 on Saturday  – and between 35 and 36 over the weekend in Scone – farmers fear the moisture will soon be gone. 

This rain is great and will be a start, but if we get weeks of warm weather again and no follow up rain, it may be green for a little while but we will be back to where we were. We need weeks of rain, good rain, and while the paddocks may get green there will still be no stock feed for at least 8 weeks.” - Owen's Gap farmer Rachell Cox

The story Rain a relief, but the Hunter drought is not over yet first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.

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