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What the bunya pine trees says about upcoming rain

ANCIENT WISDOM: Len Carlson says the nut harvest from his Mooloo property's bunya pines has been a remarkably good guide to west season rainfall over his 62 years growing crops in the area.
ANCIENT WISDOM: Len Carlson says the nut harvest from his Mooloo property's bunya pines has been a remarkably good guide to west season rainfall over his 62 years growing crops in the area. Jacob Carson

WE MAY get a decent wet season this year, but veteran Mooloo crop farmer Len Carlson says don't bet on it.

Mr Carlson says the wisdom of the ages, as relayed to him in his youth by one of the district's earliest settlers, is that the bunya pines tell the story.

"And they are generally pretty right," Mr Carlson says.

This year, the trees are predicting lean times, with irrigation farmers forced to spend a lot more money on expensive electricity to pump water.

"If they're not bearing by now, you are not going to get decent rainfall," he said.

"They don't have a big harvest every year, but there are usually a couple about.

"I haven't seen one cone of nuts this year and we've got a lot of trees here.

"The trees don't produce a lot of nuts in years when there is unlikely to be enough rain for them to germinate.

"I've never seen a year before where there were none at all," he said.

Zachariah Skyring, he explains, was one of the area's earliest European inhabitants.

His pioneer family gave their name to Skyring Creek and Skyring Creek Rd.

"He grew up among the aboriginal people and he said they told him the bunya pines were a reliable guide.

"They told him that if there were no bunya nuts, there would be no big wet season.

"I've watched it over the years and most of the time it works.

"I'm not panicking yet," Mr Carlson said.

"We'll still plant the same number of beans.

"I'll worry if it hasn't rained by April."

Another rule of thumb is the phase of the moon, he says.

"The moon has a lot to do with the rain.

"They used to say that if it doesn't rain in the New Moon, you'll irrigate most of the month..."

Mr Carlson, 76, has been growing beans for 62 years and says he has thought about retiring.

"But if you're doing something you like and it's working, why stop?" he said.

Topics:  environment gympie irrigation mooloo weather forecast wet season

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