DRY: Strawberry farmer George Himm has slashed his crop because of the drought.
DRY: Strawberry farmer George Himm has slashed his crop because of the drought. John Mccutcheon

Strawberry farmers face tough season if no rain

SOME of the region's strawberry farmers are in dire straits because of water restrictions.

Planting season is just beginning, requiring huge water usage for drought-hit farmers in Queensland's biggest strawberry-producing area.

They use a lot of water to establish the plants before switching to trickle irrigation until closer to harvest in June-October.

The Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast council areas were drought-declared on March 10 and many strawberry farmers in the region are worried that without decent rainfall they won't have a crop.

Moreton Bay councillors are examining allowing farmers to draw water from dams, lakes and retention basins on council property.

Queensland Strawberry Growers' Association president Luigi Coco said there could be some problems without sufficient rain.

"But there's a lot of growers out there that are planting on a prayer," he said.

Cr Adrian Raedel said crop failures could potentially take a big chunk out of the Moreton region's economy.

"Over 7000 strawberry pickers come into the region every year. Just on fruit pickers alone they'd spend at least $50 a day in the local area," he said.

"Then you need to take into account that the produce, the fruit isn't being sold, and that's millions of dollars."

Last year Ningi farmer George Himm planted 2.7 million plants. This year he will plant only 1.7 million because of water fears.

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