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Dry wet season has Mackay farmers praying for rain

Peter Hayes said cattle sales were down on Saturday at the first Sarina sale of 2018 compared to the highs of this time last year.
Peter Hayes said cattle sales were down on Saturday at the first Sarina sale of 2018 compared to the highs of this time last year. Campbell Gellie

DRY weather has taken the sting out of the first Sarina Cattle Sale of 2018 as farmers across the region pray for rain.

Hayes and Co owner Peter Hayes said considering how dry it had been for graziers over the range in Nebo sales were good on Saturday but worried about what would happen if the rain didn't come.

So far this year at Mackay, there has been just 6.2mm of rain and just 16.8mm has fallen since December 6.

Last year Mackay had 427.2mm in the first 13 days of the year although that did include a once in a 100 year flood. However over the past 58 years Mackay has averaged 279mm of rain in January.

Mr Hayes was concerned what would happen to the future sales if graziers didn't get rain within the next six weeks.

Despite that he said prices were still good on Saturday although lower than the dizzying heights of early last year, prices he believed were too high.

He said pens that went for $1075 a steer and heifer would have sold for almost double that last year.

But he said the market was still good considering three years ago they would have sold for about $600.

Nebo Grazier Peter McLeod sold steers and said Mr Hayes did a good job working the price up considering how dry it had been.

He said his property relied heavily on downfalls from the wet season.

However, apart from a few inches of rain in November his property had only received "dribs and drabs” which was not enough for his herd.

It's not just on the other side of the range where the water is needed.

Eton cane grower Phil Deguara said he hadn't seen any rain for nearly six weeks after missing out during the small storms over the past two weeks.

He said he was putting a lot water on his cane in this hot weather as he irrigated over the past five weeks.

"(The crop) is not too bad for how dry it is but we are putting a lot of water on it,” he said.

"We probably need 50mm this week would be perfect and a fair bit more by the end of January.”

Topics:  cane farmers cattle graziers hot conditions mackay news mackay weather rain please we need rain


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