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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Searing heat years too soon for salad growers

The third heatwave in two months has hit salad growers in Queensland's south hard, with many farmers battling to harvest 30 per cent of their crop.
Farmer Clem Hodgman said he has been losing about 50,000 lettuces and 25,000 cauliflowers a week at his property near Toowoomba.
"The temperatures are so high, crops are burning off in the fields."
He said while prices were rising in supermarkets, farmers would not reap the benefit as energy and water costs rose accordingly.
"We don't want another summer like this for many, many years," he said.
But Rachel Mackenzie from farm lobby group Growcom said the heat could be the new norm.
She said an industry study into heat impacts on the salad industry did not predict such high temperatures for another 13 years.
"We were looking at 2030 in terms of when some of these thresholds would be reached," she said.
"This could be our new reality. We've had three years in a row where we've had significant heat, and we need to start saying what can we do to make sure we have the right [ways] to deal with this."

Birdsville sweats out record

The record for hottest February day in Birdsville in the state's far south-west has been broken, with Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) figures showing the mercury in the town hit 46.2 degrees Celsius at 4:10pm.
Previously, Birdsville's hottest February day was 45.8C in 2006.
The all-time record at Birdsville airport was 49C in January 2013.
More temperature records could be broken next week unless a high pressure system over the Tasman Sea arrives to cool things down.
The hot weather is the continuation of a low pressure surface trough over southern Queensland that contributed to higher than average temperatures in January.
Overnight minimums in January were the highest on record for a large area of southern Queensland, while maximum temperatures were in the highest 10 per cent of historical records for nearly all of the state's southern half.
The mercury peaked at 39.1C in Warwick on the Southern Downs yesterday, more than 10C above average.
BOM forecaster Vinord Anand said it was the hottest February day in the town since records began more than 50 years ago.
"The record before yesterday was 39 degrees, which was in February 1983," he said.
Applethorpe hit a scorching 36.8C, more than 11C above average.
"The last time it was nearly that hot was in February, also in 1983, when it was 36.1C," Mr Anand said.
The all-time maximum record for Applethorpe is 37.8C, while in Warwick it is 41.7C.
Mr Anand said it had cooled down slightly in the region today, with Applethorpe reaching 25C by 11:00am.
"It's cooler today in those areas compared to yesterday, but we do expect it to warm up again into the weekend and next week," he said.