Tasmania farmers are being prevented from planting spring crops like onions and potatoes as relentless rain soaks paddocks. Over the past week some parts of Tasmania have received more than 200 mm of rain, coming on the back of an unprecedented wet winter season.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association Vegetable Council chairman Nathan Richardson said the wet weather was causing trouble for planting Tasmanian staple crops such as onions, potatoes and poppy crops.
“We’ve really hit the wall in terms of an economically-viable planting date for onions and peas,” he said.
Richardson said it was one of the wettest seasons he had experienced.
“This is now uncharted territory for a lot of growers because we just can’t remember a period being this wet.”
The Tasmanian countryside is dotted with ponds, puddles and dams that were beyond imagining this time 12 months ago, when the island state was in a period of drought.
Farmers and agronomists are scratching their heads as they try to figure out how they are going to manage such a wet season.
Craig Soward is an agronomist in the northern midlands of Tasmania who said he had never seen it this wet.
“We’re at least over five inches above our yearly average already,” he said.
“Our yearly average out here is 800 mm and we’re over 920 mm. I’ve recorded the rain for 10-15 years and I’ve never seen as much rain as this.”
Despite there being a diverse range of soil types across the north of Tasmania, the heavy rain is having an impact right across the different growing regions.
It also poses more challenges for the harvest, when the normally plentiful vegetable supply in Tasmania may come up short.
“It’s getting late to plant now, extremely late for onions,” Soward said.
“Even if it stops raining today, it’s going to take at least two weeks minimum to dry out.
“We are already in October so it’s going to be an extremely frustrating season.
“How that’s going to play out for suppliers of fresh vegies come Christmas time and the New Year, I’m not too sure at this stage.”