AU: Farmers cope with wet weather

Farmers in the Southern Downs and Granite Belt won’t let a little rain, cold, hail and wind stop them from getting their produce to the market. The unseasonably wet conditions have been one of the worst on record and lower than normal temperatures this year have kept things “interesting” according to some of the growers around Stanthorpe. The stone fruit crop this year has seen a lower yield than in past seasons, said Mario Giacosa from Wheel In Orchard on the Fruit Run just north of Stanthorpe. “The wet weather and cold reduced the volume of fruit, interrupting pollination and growth and affected the flavour, however because growers across the country suffered from similar conditions, prices remain high due to the lack of fruit on the market,” Mr Giacosa said.

“The stone fruit growers from this area are fantastic farmers and we have excellent soil conditions so even with some of the worst weather on record we are getting through okay.” Mr Giacosa said the apple and grape crops were looking reasonably good with farmers having to keep on top of the spraying as with all the wet weather fungus could become a problem. “If we get good weather for the rest of the season we should have tasty apples and sweet grapes in a few months,” he said. Sunshine and calm weather were also on the Christmas wish list for the manager of Strawberry Fields Stanthorpe, Glen Walker. The recent hail storm to rip through the region caused major damage to the strawberry crop on his farm.

“We had survived the rain then got hit with a heavy hail storm that has put the harvest back for a few weeks,” Mr Walker said. “We were packing up to 15 pallets of fruit a day before the hail storm, now we are packing two or three. “Hopefully by the end of January we’ll be back to full production.”
Lettuce, capsicum and baby leaf salad crops have also suffered from the rain and hail, Mr Walker said.