WINTER VEG: Lockyer Valley Growers Association president Michael Sippel says farmers are feeling the early heat.
WINTER VEG: Lockyer Valley Growers Association president Michael Sippel says farmers are feeling the early heat. Ali Kuchel

Cheap carrot, potato gain is pain for Lockyer farmers

SUMMER has come early and winter veggies are going cheap in the Lockyer Valley.

It's because production out of the salad bowl has been literally too good, too fast and too soon as producers battle to sell their carrots and potatoes in a saturated market.

An early spring season heat means consumers have plenty to choose from at the grocery store but local vegetable farmers have too much stock on their hands.

The unseasonably warm daytime temperatures mean Lockyer Valley winter crops like carrots and potatoes are thriving early, harvest is happening quickly and supply is meeting or exceeding demand.

It's a situation that pushes veggie prices down which might be good news for salad eaters but a continuous production means producers are either breaking even or selling their stock below cost.

Lockyer Valley Growers Association president Michael Sippel said while the winter weather had been unusually warm, the most significant challenge was the exaggerated diurnal temperatures.

Diurnal temperatures refer to the pattern of day to night temperatures and while they normally reflect higher temperatures during the day, last week's winter heatwave disturbed the pattern.

"The nights have been cold but the days have been extremely warm so what that means for consumers is there has been no gaps in production so we've had week on week basis," Mr Sippel said.

"Cauliflower, broccoli and lettuce have been harvesting as per schedule and probably even earlier so there have been no real delays getting to harvest and there has been nothing left behind in the field.

"There have been an oversupply which means in Coles veggies are already on special which is great news for consumers."

He said cooler winter temperatures were essential to slow production and create gaps in supply which led to higher demand and increased prices.

On either side of the winter warmer, Lockyer Valley farmers have been battling strong winds and a blasting sun which can dry out soil and sunburn watermelons and pumpkin.

"The wind we had on the weekend was really damaging to crops. Farmers who are irrigating crops are not able to get the moisture deep into the profile so crops are only just hanging on. We need some kinder weather, it's been a tough week," Mr Sippel said.

"Unless you get some decent rain, through the high heat, sunburn can happen on watermelons and pumpkins, they can be scorched lying on the ground."

Winter warmer on hold until Spring

DAYTIME temperatures akin to spring conditions last week were a welcome warm blast from frosty winter mornings in Ipswich but it's the last of it until Spring has officially sprung.

Ipswich residents enjoyed highs of 34 and 33 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday, but winter has returned this week to the finish the month.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Rick Threlfall said conditions would remain closer to the maximum August average of 23 degrees at least until September.

Temperatures are expected to peak at 28 degrees today and remain slightly above average for the rest of the week.

There is a slight chance of a shower at the weekend.