Bundaberg Region drought worsens

Bundaberg drought
The Bundaberg Region has experienced much drier conditions than usual in 2019. Picture: UAV Bundaberg

The Bundaberg Region has recorded only about one third of its normal rainfall so far this year with farms and gardens suffering under the prolonged drought.

The average rainfall from January to September is 721.2mm but just 254.6mm has been recorded at Bundaberg Airport.

September figures are also grim with just 0.2mm recorded as the month nears its close, compared to the 35.6mm average.

While the region's highest rainfall total for the year fell over March, it was still well below the average.

  Year to date Average
January 6.8 171.4
February 51.2 156.2
March 81.4 112.9
April 54.6 55.9
May 27.4 66.8
June 18.8 50.2
July 5.2 38.6
August 9 33.6
September 0.2 35.6
TOTAL 254.6 721.2
Bundaberg drought
Local gardening expert Kerry Borg recommends mulching trees to combat dry conditions.

Kerry Borg has more than 40 years’ experience in the nursery industry, the last 11 of which she has spent with Bundaberg Wholesale Palms and Plants.

While she can remember some dry seasons in the Bundaberg Region, she said this one seems to be the worst.

“This seems an extended, long period,” Kerry said.

“It’s often dry in spring time here, but this seems to be more so.

“When we get a little bit of rain it doesn’t seem to be doing anything to help the plants.

“The promise of rain doesn’t look to good for the future for a while.”

Based on samples brought in by clients, Kerry said plants were stressing in the dry conditions.

“If they haven’t been watered, they are stressing.

“We are getting large trees showing burn or leaf drop.”

Mulch can combat Bundaberg drought

dry weather average rainfall
Mulching can stop water from evaporating before it reaches your plants.

She said it was a natural occurrence for trees to drop their leaves to mulch which is why it was encouraged that gardeners do the same.

“Now we’re getting in to summer you’ve got to get that mulch down.

“We’re just trying to stop that evaporation by having the mulching on it.”

Kerry said to also beware of ineffective watering techniques.

“We’re encouraging people to mulch their gardens and do more of a deep water.

“Check how far it’s soaking in or if it’s just running off.

“They might need to get a soil wetter or some sort of wetting agent to help the ground absorb the moisture.”

If your soil is of the sandy variety common to a lot of Bundaberg properties, Kerry recommended putting compost materials in to the soil.

“[With the sandy soil] any water they get is just disappearing.”

She said too much watering was not the key in hot, dry conditions but rather knowing your plants and how much water each one needs.

“Some people are over watering their plants too I’m finding at this time of year.”

A seaweed extract was also recommended for any plants showing signs of heat stress.

For anyone looking to plant at the moment, Kerry recommended the Indian Hawthorne to outlast the dry weather conditions.

“That’s a great one for in Bundy.

“It’s tougher than a lot of others and it’s a nice shrub.”

For anyone unsure on what their garden needs, Kerry said to pop in to the nursery.

“They can bring a sample with their problem … we’ll talk them through it.”

  • Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor Jack Dempsey wrote to the Federal Government seeking Drought Communities Programme assistance for farmers, but this was rejected.