Plants wither in hot weather

AS THE Riverina’s heatwave continues to bake the region, concerns are mounting about the effect it is having on produce as well as residential gardens.The mercury peaked at 38.1 degrees Celsius today, the ninth day in a row on which the temperature passed 37.8 degrees – equal to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.The previous record was six days.And it is only going to get worse.The Bureau of Meteorology yesterday predicted the temperatures over the next four days would be 41, 41, 43 and 41.The almost insufferable heat is taking its toll on residential gardens.“I have had plants up here that have been sunburnt for the first time and no amount of water can stop it with the heat we have been having,” said Wagga resident, Bernie Leitch.“You can’t expect anything else in this extreme heat.”Mr Leitch said all he could suggest was to water plants in the cool of the day and not get water on leaves.Kathy Sim, of the Murrumbidgee Nursery at Lake Albert, said the business had been hand watering six hours a day in a bid to keep its plants alive.“We don’t use sprinklers because it burns the plants,” she said.Around the region, rural producers are keeping a close eye on their livestock for heat stress.At this time there have been no reports of major stock deaths.The Department of Primary Industries Wagga agronomist, Nigel Phillips, said perennial pastures were suffering.“Because of the high temperatures and dry soil they have shut up shop,” Mr Phillips said.Chairman of the Griffith branch of NSW Farmers, Peter Flanagan, said the lingering heatwave was damaging wine grapes to varying degrees in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.The prolonged high temperatures and searing sun is also taking its toll on horticultural crops, sunburning many types of produce.The heat is also affecting the fight against locusts.“Long, hot, dry days are forcing locusts into the shade under trees and out of the hot ground onto fence posts and stumps where it’s impossible for farmers and authorities to treat them,” said the Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald.n More weather news: Page 12

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