Paul Kilroy, harvest manager for Mountain Blue Orchards at Lindendale, inspects blueberry bushes for damage as a result of prolonged wet conditions.
Paul Kilroy, harvest manager for Mountain Blue Orchards at Lindendale, inspects blueberry bushes for damage as a result of prolonged wet conditions. JAY CRONAN

Farmers count storm losses

FARMERS across the region are yet to begin counting the full cost extreme wet weather has had on their businesses.

The big wet has created havoc in many agricultural sectors.

Mountain Blue Orchards’ Natalie Bell said the Lindendale blueberry grower was experiencing its worst harvest session.

“There is fruit rotting on the bush,” Ms Bell said.

“It’s been too wet and we haven’t even been able to get to the fields to pick.”

Ms Bell said it was normally their busiest time of the year, but following the persistent rain the outlook was looking bleak.

The wet weather is not only causing headaches for horticultural industries.

Richmond River Cane Growers’ Association manager Andrew Tickle said round three of harvesting had stopped because of heavy rainfall.

Cane farmers have been unable to light fires to burn the standing crop, which must be done before it can be harvested.

However, the biggest concern facing growers was delayed planting of the 2012 cane crop.

“We need to have it in by the end of November at the latest,” Mr Tickle said.

He said he was trying to remain positive, but the 28-day weather outlook showed more rain was on the way.

“We need a week of sunshine and no further rain,” Mr Tickle said. Then the harvest could resume.

Australian Macadamia Society spokesman Chris Papas said it was too early to tell what the outcome for the industry would be.

Just a month ago, growers were hoping for a bumper yield after excellent flowering. However, that was before the rain.

“In four weeks we will have a much better indication,” Mr Papas said.

One of the expected problems will be botrytis, a fungal disease that thrives in wet conditions.



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