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Defying the dry and awaiting the wet

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The prolonged dry spell on Fraser Island took its toll on vegetation …  but not on Guinea Grass (Megathyrsus maximus var. maximus)

From July through to Christmas day, Eurong, like many areas in South East Queensland, suffered from a lack of rain.

Last year’s total of 848mm was 983mm below its 10-year average.

Based on rainfall figures recorded over 10-years, June 2019 recorded 25mm above average rainfall, but it was downhill from there.

Every month in the second half of 2019 had below average rainfall. July, September, October, November and December were the driest in 10 years. July was the driest since 2016. November’s 7mm total was 110mmm below average.

Healthy weeds. A clump of Guinea Grass flourishing in the dry

In the dry heat of November and early December, some trees shed excess leaves, branches drooped and small shallow-rooted saplings and plants died.

Guinea Grass in shaded areas defied the heat and seemed to draw enough moisture from the sandy soil and humid air, not just to survive, but to flourish.

On Christmas Day, Santa brought some relief from the drought putting 31mm in the rain gauge. In January Eurong has received over 150mm.

With the welcome rain, Guinea Grass had a head start on other vegetation, grew lush and long-dormant seeds sprouted and thrived.

So, for weed busters it was “once more to the breech …”

Article contributed by David Anderson, Fraser Island Association

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