UPS AND DOWNS: Elders Gatton agronomist Greg Teske says while a potential wet winter is positive, it could have its hurdles. Picture: Ali Kuchel
UPS AND DOWNS: Elders Gatton agronomist Greg Teske says while a potential wet winter is positive, it could have its hurdles. Picture: Ali Kuchel

Wet winter? Don’t count your chickens yet, farmers

GROWERS are becoming excited about the possibility of a wet winter, but there’s some problems that could come with the rain.

Elders Gatton agronomist Greg Teske said a wet winter would be a welcome change, and the first in a long time.

“We haven’t had a wet winter in many, many years,” Mr Teske said.

“We had good rain over summer, the creeks ran for a very short time, but it wasn’t enough.”

READ MORE: Why Gatton has a relatively high chance of a wet winter

But he said growers shouldn’t count their chickens, or harvest, before they hatched.

“It’s difficult to actually forecast what the season is going to do,” he said.

“We could have the extra moisture and warmer weather, but we’ve got to see that first.”

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While the promise of extra rain is positive, it could bring challenges of its own.

“A wet winter can bring on the possibility of more bacterial leaf diseases,” he said.

Rainfall outlook for winter 2020.
Rainfall outlook for winter 2020.

Agronomists will be monitoring seven-day forecasts throughout the season and Mr Teske said if heavy rain was expected, growers would need to get preventive fungicides on crops before the disease could take hold.

Glenore Grove vegetable farmer Brett Simon is feeling positive about the winter season.
Glenore Grove vegetable farmer Brett Simon is feeling positive about the winter season.

Glenore Grove farmer Brett Simon was also buoyed by the promise of extra rain.

While he agreed the extra moisture could lead to issues with disease, he said he wasn’t making any preparations until the rain was on its way.

“(I won’t do anything) until it starts raining – we’ll prepare for it when it’s forecast,” Mr Simon said.

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Overall, the vegetable grower was feeling positive about the winter season, despite a lack of rain in the lead-up.

He said prices had been high for vegetables, which was a boost for farmers.

“Prices are looking good because of the wet weather in Victoria, and supply is short so the prices are staying high,” he said.

Pests could also be an issue if the season was warmer, but Greg Teske said there was no simple answer on how numbers would be affected.

“I wish I did have the answer,” he said.

“At the beginning of the year … I was finding diamond back moth on every property.

“Last five weeks, I haven’t seen the numbers so low in a long time.”

Maximum temperature outlook for winter 2020.
Maximum temperature outlook for winter 2020.

But one positive heading into the winter season is an increase in beneficial insects, which Mr Teske was pleased to see.

He said it was going to be a matter of being ready for anything this season.

“In a nutshell, if it is a warm, wet winter, we’ve got to be ready for it,” he said.

“We just have to be a step ahead.”