Home NewsAustralia ‘A kick in the guts for the district’: Ballarat potato farmers devastated as crop damaged by extreme weather

‘A kick in the guts for the district’: Ballarat potato farmers devastated as crop damaged by extreme weather

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As much as 95 per cent of the potato crops within the Ballarat agricultural district have been broken by storms this week, because the state braces for extra wild climate. 

Some farmers within the area had been reporting greater than 200 millimetres of rain from the climate occasion, which started with extreme thunderstorms on Wednesday afternoon. 

Ballarat Potato Growers Affiliation chairman Chris Stephens mentioned hail defoliated juvenile crops, which had been already delayed because of the moist and chilly summer season. 

“The storm just about went from one finish of the district to the opposite … it is estimated that 90 to 95 per cent of the growers and crops had been affected by the storm,” he mentioned. 

“The hail injury is simply horrendous, some crops have simply been utterly stripped of all their foliage.

“The hail was marble-sized and it continued for over half an hour in some locations.” 

A spokesperson for McCain Meals, the area’s largest potato processor, mentioned it was too early to touch upon the injury.

Flooded paddocks
Many farms within the Ballarat area skilled excessive flooding.(Provided: Katherine Myers)

Mr Stephens mentioned the growers worst affected may lose as much as 70 per cent of their potato yield this season because of the storm injury, and in the perfect case situation farmers would nonetheless be dropping about 20 per cent of their crop. 

“It is fairly properly going to be 12 months of labor for nothing,” he mentioned. 

“Plenty of the growers within the district additionally develop cereal crops and so forth, and a few of these crops have been broken wherever from 30 to 80 per cent.

Mr Stephens estimated as much as 2,000 hectares of potato land was broken within the storms. 

“This district grows roughly 130,000 tonnes of processing and seed potatoes,” he mentioned.

a close up photo of hands holding potatoes that have just been dug out of the ground
Roughly 50 per cent of Victoria’s potato provide comes from Ballarat and surrounds.(ABC Rural: Jane McNaughton)

Increasing costs of fertiliser and gasoline meant many farmers had been already spending extra to keep up their land, Mr Stephens mentioned. 

“It is already been a extremely robust yr; we had been going to be struggling to make any cash because it was,” he mentioned. 

“It prices roughly $18,000 a hectare to develop a crop, with excessive fertiliser costs which are going to place one other two or three thousand {dollars} on high.

A damaged potato crop
Hail and floods have broken a big portion of Ballarat’s potato crops.(Provided: Chris Stephens)

To attempt to get well produce from the broken crops, Mr Stephens mentioned growers would want to use extra fertiliser and anti-fungal therapies than throughout a typical season. 

“Plenty of the fertiliser that was put in has been washed away, they usually’re not going to simply must re-apply what they misplaced,” he mentioned. 

“We will must put additional on now as a result of the crop goes to want it, simply to attempt to get well.

Flood water over a road
Tourello Highway, north of Ballarat, was one in every of many rural roads that flooded within the storms.(Provided: Katherine Myers)

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