DRIED UP: Frank Deshon has not grown cotton on his property in three years, and is again unlikely to plant his winter crops this year due to lack of rainfall and scorching weather.
DRIED UP: Frank Deshon has not grown cotton on his property in three years, and is again unlikely to plant his winter crops this year due to lack of rainfall and scorching weather. David Barwell

Winter crops freeze up as heatwave continues

FOR three years now, Frank Deshon hasn't grown cotton on his property.

And as the long, scorching, dry summer turns to winter with no rain in sight he admits it's unlikely he will be planting any other crops this year.

Cotton is usually harvested in March and April and has not grown on his Dirranbandi property since 2016. Now Mr Deshon is now facing another winter season without being able to plant his dry-land crops, most notably wheat, barley and chickpeas.

"If you look at the Bureau of Meteorology three-month outlook, it's looking very unlikely that we will have any rain, thus any river flow, which is essential for these crops,” Mr Deshon said.

"I've been in this industry my whole life, and this is the driest period I have ever seen, and my father has said the same.”

The thermometer tipped 40C on Sunday in St George, eight degrees above average, and the Bureau of Meteorology are warning the heatwave is set to stick around.

Mr Deshon said he was suffering from the lack of summer crops, a by-product of the rain-less wet season.

"We haven't had any summer rain since 2012, and that is essential for this channel country,” he said.

"They're forecasting a drier and colder winter than usual, and we're fast approaching the winter planting window, and it's looking very unlikely we will be able to plant.”

Mr Deshon said the ability to grow feed for his livestock is also becoming increasingly difficult.

"Generally, if there is a river run, we can do irrigated winter cropping to back our feed lot up, but there's been no river flow, we had no summer rain,” he said.

"People have been trying to keep their core breeders, sheep or cattle, through feeding, but that is getting scarce. There's a real likelihood of no new crops this year, all we can do is push through, but there are people that have to make some really critical decisions. "The only thing to fix it is rain. This drought will break, it has to, we just don't know when.”

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Michael Gray said March temperatures had been "very much above average”. The hottest March day recorded in St George was 42C in 2016, this week temperatures hit about 41C.

Mr Gray said temperatures around the state were about 6-8 degrees above the month's average.

"We'll still be in the high 30s for large areas of inland Queensland, and the low 40s in parts of the far west.”


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