Hope of rain lifting spirits in bush as cyclones hover

DYLAN is gone and Edna remains on an ocean cruise but with almost three months left of cyclone season, drought-affected farmers are now subsisting on hope.

In the days before and after Christmas last year, the Bureau of Meteorology's middle-of-the-road projections meant producers were facing an endless dry.

Now, with Edna reforming off Queensland's east coast and the newly named Cyclone Fletcher dousing the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, those on the land are optimistic.

"There's nothing that lifts the spirits of the bush like the chance of rain," said Charles Burke, chief executive of AgForce Queensland.

Mr Burke said he could not use the word "relief" but hope was building.

"Prior to Christmas and just after, the BOM's predictions weren't particularly positive," he said.

"The interesting thing is that once these monsoon activities start to appear, that can change all the previous weather pattern predictions.

"We're remaining very optimistic."

Meanwhile, sugar cane growers in Mackay and Proserpine did score some much-needed falls, which will improve their looming harvest.

Less lucky were growers to the south near Bundaberg and Maryborough.

Canegrowers president Paul Schembri said it was a "patchwork quilt" but he would not predict the quality of the harvest because "there is too much weather yet to unfold".

Just weeks ago, graziers were warning they were on the brink of having to abandon their properties - now they are buoyed by the chance of a drenching rain.

"History proves that droughts do get broken by rain and every day is a day closer," Mr Burke said.

"Hopefully it's not too far away from this one."



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