Canegrowers are pleased with the summer rain.
Canegrowers are pleased with the summer rain. Scott Powick

Weather provides an early gift to Tweed farmers

FARMERS are celebrating a positive beginning to 2017 with falls of rain and warm sunshine.

Brett Bartlett, store manager of Murwillumbah's Norco Rural, said conditions had been a boost for the sector at a time it was needed, particularly with a heatwave set to hit this week.

"Things were starting to look pretty desperate," he said.

"For people feeding pastures it was starting to get pretty desperate, especially the ones who don't have irrigation.

"Irrigation is quite costly anyway, it either runs on electricity or diesel and it's quite expensive so the rain has helped us in that way."

The change was a welcome relief following what was a dry 2016 on the Far North Coast with the Bureau of Meteorology's annual climate report showing the the region as one of the few in the state to receive less-than-average rain.

Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Agata Imielska said most of the nation experienced a hot year but the dry conditions on the Far North Coast stood out.

"Quite large parts of New South Wales experienced above-average rainfall," Ms Imielska said.

"That was influenced by a climate driver called the Indian Ocean Dipole."

Ms Imielska said there were also records broken for day and night high temperatures.

Mr Bartlett said most Tweed farmers tailored their produce to the area's climate, and steady falls were essential as the region did not rely a lot on irrigation.

"The last six months hasn't been as good as it could be but it hasn't been altogether that bad either," he said.

"It's been a reasonably good season for us. We're pretty lucky in comparison to a lot of other parts of Australia as we're usually one of the last places to go into drought.

"But in saying that if we don't get rain for three weeks, as a rule, we're starting to dry out.

"It's a high rainfall area and we do need high rainfall."



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