Rural industry to battle El Niño

WHILE an El Niño climate looms in the near future and meteorologists warn of more devastatingly dry conditions, local producers and stock agents are still holding out hope the market will turn around.

For some, worrying about the latest long-term forecast doesn't change the problem.

"We just need rain, put it that way," Nowlan Stock and Station agent David Friend said.

For others, the El Niño forecast is a matter of 'been there, done that'.

"I don't hold a lot in what forecasts like that say personally, hopefully there has been enough (rain) to get through," George and Fuhrmann stock agent Matt Grayson said.

As the region has survived on minimal rainfall over the past few months, Mr Grayson knows local producers have already braced themselves for more tough conditions.

"They have done a pretty good job getting through so far," he said.

"But as far as the market's concerned it's going to be the same whether you listen to the forecast or not."

As the dry is expected to continue into the year, the stock agent predicts market prices will actually improve.

"Export is as good as it's ever been," Mr Grayson said.

"Right now we are in a total oversupply, once the numbers dry up the market will be good towards the end of the year."

Local weather watcher and storm chaser Terry West also stands by the recent predictions of an El Niño climate in the near future.

"The likelihood of an El Niño is now at 70% - this tells me we may go into another drought after winter and most likely through spring and into summer," he said.

If the forecasts do hold true those in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria can expect low to no rain over the next 12 months, especially in the middle of the year.

"The only rain we will see will be from thunderstorms in spring and summer and I don't think there will be many of them," Mr West said.

Though El Niño has the potential to last from the middle of this year into the next, Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Bryan Rolstone says it's not all bad news.

"Not every month is expected to have lower levels of rain, there can be the odd month with a higher than average rainfall," he said.

The meteorologist expects the El Niño could go into summer following autumn but then will break down after 12 months.

"Conditions could be similar to 1982; this change happens every three to four years like a swinging pendulum, it's a fairly natural trend," Mr Rolstone said.

Despite the concern, for Olsen's Produce manager Ian Wallace it's business as usual.

"Mother nature is a mighty hard woman," he said.

"The reliability of rainfall is a lot less than what is was but we are learning to live with the season; keep on keeping on."

What is an El Niño climate?

El Niño refers to the extensive warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific that leads to a major shift in weather patterns across the Pacific.

El Niño events are often accompanied by cooler than normal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the western Pacific, and to the north of Australia.

Over much of Australia, but particularly eastern Australia, El Niño events are associated with an increased probability of drier conditions.

(Information courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology)

Topics:  industry primary industries

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