Cane farmer to be cut off from water supply
AFTER tomorrow, Maryborough cane grower Norm Muller will have no choice but to watch his annual income wither away and die.
Until now, Mr Muller has been battling the extremely dry weather by irrigating his cane with water from the Mary River Barrage, but SunWater has announced that from February 26, medium priority customers, including Mr Muller, will be cut off from the supply.
Once that happens, Mr Muller said there was "nothing he could do" to save his crop.
"Once it runs out mate, everything's got to go backwards, it'll die off in a big hurry," Mr Muller said.
"Every thing's growing like mad right now, but as soon as we turn the water off, it'll fall over and die pretty quickly."
SunWater told the Chronicle once the barrage's water level dropped to, or below a metre, they had to discontinue a supply to medium priority users.
SunWater expects the one metre level will be reached by tomorrow.
Mr Muller said being cut from the barrage supply would mean losing money, not just his crop.
"That's our income for this year," he said.
"It's already cost us a fortune through power and water to keep the crop going, and we've just lost that money cold when the cane dies."
The Beaver Rock grower said his property had been cut off from the barrage supply twice before, but not for very long.
"Within a week of being cut off we've had massive rainfall, and the levels have gone back up, but there's nothing on the horizon for us right now," he said.
"You feel sorry for the cows, there's not even a green blade of grass out there and that's disheartening."
Mr Muller is also running about 150 head of cattle, but said he had been de-stocking quickly as the dry continued.
"We're sending off a load of cows every fortnight, but they're still worth reasonable money," he said.
"We're lucky that inland areas have had good rain, mate, if they hadn't we'd been in a lot of trouble because we're experiencing best cattle prices ever at the moment, they're around $3 a kilo which is great."
Mr Muller said because of the lack of grass, the cows had been weaning their calves early, which meant the producer had to sell them earlier.
The farmer said that even if it rained tomorrow, the grass was probably beyond growing back, and it would take some time for the ground to look green again.
"Yeah, it's not looking good, mate, but there's no point crying about it."