As Cyclone Ita bears down on Queensland, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has warned farmers across the country that El Nino weather patterns are likely ahead.
The chance of a destructive El Nino weather event developing this year has now exceeded 70 per cent, the BOM revealed earlier this week (April 8).
This news is troubling for Queensland farmers already battening down the hatches in preparation for Cyclone Ita. Currently the storm is whipping up destructive winds expected to cause damage across a 200 kilometre radius.
The BOM warns farmers and residents that the cyclone poses a “significant threat” to communities in Queensland’s far north, so it’s important to ensure you are prepared for extreme weather damage.
As recovery from Cyclone Ita gets underway, farmers across Australia will need to immediately begin planning for the potential risks from the forecast El Nino pattern.
A typical El Nino event will cause dry weather and frosts on the east coast, while the north and west are battered with higher than normal rainfall. As an El Nino affects many countries, food supplies across the globe could be affected.
Pittsworth agronomist Hugh Reardon-Smith told ABC Australia that the frost risk which is associated with El Nino is a major concern for local farmers and the country’s agriculture industry.
“We saw the frost do a lot of damage last year, so I think everyone has to be wary of them and trying to plant too early is definitely going to increase the risk of getting frost damage,” he said.
Mr Reardon-Smith suggests farmers stick to the recommended planting windows and try to protect the moisture stored in the soil leading into the El Nino season.
“If you can conserve your soil moisture so that the crop does have good moisture underneath it, I think that will give you a bit more protection,” he explained.
If you are concerned about the impact of insurable events on your farm this year, you may want to review your crop insurance policy to ensure your produce is protected.