Fears Riverina flooding could delay a harvest

NOT THE RIVER: Borambola farmer Lachlan Harris has seen water from the river spill into his paddocks but he considers himself lucky as some Riverina growers have lost up to 80 per cent of their crop. Picture: Laura Hardwick

NOT THE RIVER: Borambola farmer Lachlan Harris has seen water from the river spill into his paddocks but he considers himself lucky as some Riverina growers have lost up to 80 per cent of their crop. Picture: Laura Hardwick

GROWERS across the Riverina are beginning to count their losses as heavy rain and flooding damage crops.

But some now fear worse financial ruin may be still to come if soggy ground prevents heavy machinery from operating during harvest time.

Grant Robinson is a third generation grain farmer north east of Temora. He said the flooding is the worst has experienced in his lifetime with little expectation for his canola crops in low-lying areas.

“In similar years come harvest there are low areas where it’s a complete write off, and the areas on higher ground do really well,” Mr Robinson said. “Hopefully on balance it will be a mediocre to average result.”

But Mr Robinson said attempts to salvage crops could be sabotaged if the ground stays soft from rain.

“If the pattern doesn’t change and it stays wet like this it is going to be a real concern getting machines on farms,” he said. 

Cootamundra wheat and canola grower Peter McClintock said if the weather pattern continued farmers may not be able to harvest until February or March. 

“Most farmers are fairly apprehensive about how they are going to harvest their crops if this wet weather continues,” he said.

“It’s pretty untrafficable at the moment, and we need to be able to get heavy machinery like tractors and harvesters onto the paddock.”

 He also suspected every farmer in the Riverina was experiencing “damage to some extent” due to the wet weather.

“The biggest thing has been the cumulative effect from a wet winter and now a wet spring season,” he said. 

“The crops aren’t growing the way they should.”

Mr McClintock, who is an executive councillor for NSW Farmers, said he estimated losing 100 out of 700 of his acres of canola crops.

But Borambola farmer Lachlan Harris counts himself lucky. While water from the Murrumbidgee has spilled into one of his paddocks, the flood has resulted in inconvenience only.

“It just makes it harder to get over to the paddocks and getting enough dry weather to do the stock work,” he said. 

A minor flood warning remains in place for Wagga, with current predictions that the river will peak on Sunday night at 8.4 metres. 

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