Drought situation reports (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry)
Latest drought situation map and shire listing
- Latest coloured drought situation map - opens in new window (GIF, 214kB, last updated 13:36 03 May 2013)
- Latest black & white drought situation map and shire listing (PDF, 142kB, last updated 13:36 03 May 2013)
Drought Situation Report (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry)
Situation as at 31 March 2013
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry refers to the monthly climate statement provided by the Science Delivery Division of the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA). DSITIA notes that there is an equal likelihood of either above-median or below-median rainfall over the next three-month period (April to June) based on DSITIAs' analysis of the Southern Oscillation Index. DSITIAs' initial long-lead outlook for the 2013/14 summer (November to March) indicates, for much of Queensland, a slightly higher than normal probability of above-median summer rainfall.
Drought and natural disaster declarations
As at 31st March 2013, there are no local government areas drought declared under State processes. There were 22 current Individually Droughted Property (IDP) declarations in Queensland at the end of March 2013.
Commonwealth/State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) have been activated for primary producers for the following events during the previous 12 months:
- North Coast Storms and Flooding and East Coast Hybrid Low 24 February-7 March 2012
- Western Queensland Tropical Low 27 January 2012
- South West Queensland Wildfires, December 2012
- Far Northern Queensland Bushfires, late October to December 2012
Tropical Cyclone Oswald and Associated Rainfall and Flooding, 21-29th January 2013.
Rainfall and temperatures
March rainfall was generally high along the coast to the south of Mackay but remained average to well below average across the rest of the state. Some areas west of the Great Dividing Range are now extremely dry with some reaching their driest year in the period of official recordings.
The majority of rainfall during March was in the first 10 days and ranged from 20 to 250mm across most coastal areas. The heavier falls resulted in moderate flooding in most coastal streams. Some daily falls of less than 15mm fell in the Mackay area during the last 10 days in the month. The Mackay hinterland received more scattered and less frequent storms to deliver near average March rain over most areas.
There was about average rain during the month for the central highlands, the Dawson and Callide but over double the average for Banana. Frequently rainfall has been as local or district storms and patchy rather than general rain.
Temperatures were generally in the near to slightly above average range. There were significant periods of cloud cover impacting on pasture growth early in the month, especially in coastal areas.
Average rainfall has occurred to the east of the Great Dividing Range. West of the Great Dividing range remains very dry despite some relief rain during the month of up to 100mm in some areas.
Rainfall for the month has been average or near average for most centres. The wet conditions in February combined with the average rainfall in March has caused soil moisture levels to remain high with the soil profile in many areas still saturated.
Generally temperatures have been mild with a high proportion of cloudy days. This has reduced evaporation rates and the drying out of soils and pasture.
March recorded average to above rainfall for the month. Summer crops and pastures have benefited. The western areas continue to be affected by dry conditions. The highest falls occurred in the Chinchilla area with 150mm recorded. The eastern Downs also received well above average falls of up to 120mm.
Isolated patchy rainfall occurred across the area with the largest storm pattern occurring from Aramac and Muttaburra area through to Thargomindah in early March. This system drifted south and west depositing rain in isolated storm bands as far west as Birdsville and south to Innamincka in South Australia. The highest recording from the event was in the Aramac area with 197mm recorded at Aramac. Some later systems provided more isolated showers and storms through the area.
Local flooding occurred in the upper reaches of the Thomson, Barcoo, Bulloo, Wilson and Paroo river systems but with little chance of runs through the entire systems.
Livestock, pastures and water
The eastern areas of Queensland to the east of the Great Divide, east of Miles to Goondiwindi on the Darling downs and a patch in the central west from Muttaburra to Yaraka generally have good pastures and livestock are generally in good condition. West of these areas the rainfall has been patchy and pasture and water availability is also patchy as a result. Stock condition consequently is variable with poor to prime condition can be found across the west. Generally poor pasture conditions and poor surface water conditions in the far western areas have resulted in the need for a significant destocking for many properties. Large numbers of stock on the market has led to a significant decline in prices for most classes of stock.
Pastures to the east of the Great Divide are in average to good condition. The western areas have received little pasture response due to low rainfall levels. Additionally the burned areas that started with no residual pastures have had little response also due to the poor rainfall. Rain during the month halted the transport of livestock from the western areas for several days.
Stock range in condition however the trend for stock in the western areas of the area is declining due to the poor pasture situation. As a result significantly more destocking is expected for that area.
Pasture production has varied across the area with the Fitzroy, Dawson and Callide area providing excellent performance with pasture production above average for the past three months. Pastures are maturing and seed set has commenced. In the Mackay hinterland and along the coast, pasture growth and livestock performance has been less spectacular as a result of a lack of a significant period of wet weather and there is concern about the ability of pastures to sustain production into the year.
Stock are generally in good condition. Very high numbers of western and northern cattle are inflating the number at sales and through abattoirs at a time when CQ cattle numbers were already high. The resultant low prices are putting beef enterprises under extreme financial pressure.
Flooding within many river and creek systems has restored stock water in most of CQ but is still an issue for some properties north of Clermont and west of the Gemfields.
Livestock condition remains highly variable across the area depending on the pasture quality and quantity. In many areas producers are continuing to aggressively destock due to the deteriorating pasture and surface water conditions.
Pasture quality is particularly variable across the area. Only isolated areas where there has been significant rain in January and February or significant rain in early March continue to have green pasture. The high temperatures, low humidity and relatively strong winds have dried and deteriorated pastures in most other areas.
Increasing concentrations of kangaroos are reported to be impacting on areas of isolated good quality pastures.
Significant areas have been burned during the summer season and those burned areas that have not had significant rainfall since December continue to have little pasture response. Fires are an ongoing hazard in areas with lighting storm activity particularly in the channel country. In most other areas fuel loads are considerably diminished by grazing.
Where there is ready access to the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) there is a reliable water source. Most properties with bore water supplies also rely on surface water to distribute grazing pressure. There are now significant areas that must rely on surface water where it is now in low supply as a result of little runoff rain during the summer. Options for these producers are limited.
South East Queensland:
Pastures have continued to respond well to the rainfall. Initially it was thought that pasture bulk would be down this year but many native pastures are in their best condition for several decades. Livestock are in good condition and there is ample feed in most pastures. Generally producers seem to have less stock which is also beneficial for pastures.
Stock in the eastern areas are generally in good condition however there have been stock losses due to summer wet season prevalent diseases. To the west the Maranoa, Balonne and Goondiwindi Regional Council areas have received limited summer rain and the grass has lost the nutritive value and become woody. Stock in these areas are in poor condition. Small amounts of rainfall in this area has generated some green pick that has resulted in stock losing condition as they expend energy chasing the green pick. Supplements are being fed extensively throughout this area. There are reports of mulga trees losing leaf and dying further reducing fodder options.
Saleyard numbers have risen to extreme levels as producers in the west continue to unload stock due to limited pasture availability going into winter. Agistment is being sought by many graziers although difficult to obtain.
Cropping and horticulture
Generally good growing conditions continued through the month. There has been a lack of water runs in the western rivers.
Sugar cane growth slowed mid month and requiring some level of irrigation. About 100,000 ha of sorghum have been planted in CQ this summer which will have a range of maturing dates. Some potential exists for low protein in high yielding grain crops and disease in late maturing crops. There is about 15,000 ha of late planted mungbeans and more than 5,000 ha of sunflower planted.
Soil moisture profiles are generally ok to wet across the majority of the grain growing areas. The exception is the area north of Clermont which remains fairly dry.
South East Queensland:
The early summer dry reduced areas of crops planted and subsequently the wet weather has reduced the ability to plant. Wet weather induced disease problems are impacting on existing crops. There are currently world wide oversupply issues suppressing commodity prices for many of the crops grown across the area. Some areas of crops replanted as a result of flooding earlier in the season have been destroyed by flooding again resulting in total crop losses on those areas. Lucerne areas remain reduced as a result of losses due to flood damage.
Sugarcane currently appears to be well behind last year’s crop. The damage caused by TC Oswald and prolonged cloudy days have restricted growth markedly. While the district’s production totals will be down, however some individual growers will fare better than last year.
Early planted dryland summer crops are in good condition. On the Darling Downs wet and humid weather resulted in the sorghum harvest being delayed, grain quality downgrading and cotton quality being reduced and the fruit drop reducing yields. To the west of the area where drier conditions prevailed there have been good yields of good quality cotton.
Most of the region’s cropping area has a good profile of subsoil moisture. Groundwater reserves have benefited from the summer rains. Underground basins and aquifers were recharged as rivers and creeks flowed. Farm storages are full or nearly full to the east of the area however western area storages have limited available water.
Most major dam storages are secure. Beardmore Dam (St. George) and Chinchilla Weir are at capacity due to flood flows.
Irrigation water supplies are at low levels along the Warrego system and in the southern gulf areas where there has only one early summer low level run in the Flinders River system this summer limiting extraction to off stream storages. Surface water from storages has been exhausted and the majority of the irrigation is now from ground water sources.
Queensland Water Storages
Queensland Water Supply Levels for major water storages managed by Sunwater can be accessed from the Sunwater web site (PDF)*.
* Requires Adobe Reader
Last updated 3 May 2012