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New South Wales avocado farmer fears fire could ruin crop

An avocado farmer on the NSW mid-north coast is "well prepared" if a bushfire races towards his land. Still, he is worried, because if his 6000 trees go up in flames, it would take years to recover, as it takes five years between planting and establishing a commercial crop.

An out-of-control fire at Mount Coxcomb Road in Upper Lansdowne was at "advice" level on Wednesday. There are fears if it continues to run north it could impact Comboyne where Mr Debreceny is based. There's also a more serious "watch and act" fire at Rumba Dump southwest of the town.

"Everyone's on guard, we're well prepared, we have about 8000 litres of water," the farmer told AAP on Wednesday.

Debreceny has been "on duty" all day and most nights making sure embers don't ignite his farm on the Comboyne Plateau. There's a lot of pasture between him and the fire-front to the south, meaning he's confident he can suppress any threat to his property. But other avocado farmers could come to grief.

Debreceny is also concerned about his bamboo windbreaks which would be "like a cracker going off if there was ever a fire". The avocado farmer - whose great-grandfather selected the land in 1904 - says the plateau is home to fertile soil with an average annual rainfall of about 1800 millimetres.

He hasn't thoroughly checked the rainfall records but suspects 2019 is one of the lowest ever with just 450mm falling to date. "We've been irrigating with the limited water we've got - I think we started in March and that's a long time to be doing it," Debreceny said, adding February to April are usually the wettest months. The current blaze had taught him he needs to be even more prepared for fire over summer.


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