Storm shattersblueberry dreams

By BELINDA SCOTT

LAST week's wild weather has shattered Sulakhan Singh's fledgling blueberry operation just a week after he finished planting and protecting the crop.

Galeforce winds ripped out and tossed around heavy timber poles which had been cemented into the ground, snapped hightensile wires, tangled netting and flattened about 1000 young plants on the young Woolgoolga farmer's Newmans Road blueberry farm, where he had planted out more than a hectare of young blueberry bushes.

Neighbouring farmer Norma Arkan, who had been helping Mr Singh, estimated the damage to Mr Singh's plantation could be between $20,000 and $30,000 including the costs of plants, labour, machinery and materials.

Nambucca Valley farmers are also counting the costs of the storm, with the principal effects of last week's storms across the valley being felt by fruit, vegetable and nut growers.

The general manager of the Nambucca Shire Council, Tom Port, said the damage to agriculture in the shire had been estimated at $1.5 million, mainly to macadamia nut crops, fruit orchards and vegetable farms.

He said growers were now faced with blight and mildew problems as well as physical damage which would affect their produce into the next season.

He said the damage to infrastructure in the Nambucca Shire would not exceed the $25,000 up front limit for storm damages before gaining any extra government help.

He said the sum was made up of $15,000 for landslips on roads and $10,000 for clearing stacks of debris left by the storms.

Nambucca brought down a deficit budget this year but Mr Port said the shire had some reserves which it could use.



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