Heavy rains across southern Australia coincide with the peak of the busy harvest season. Farmers recorded more than 100 mm in parts of western Victoria and South Australia; much of that came down in a matter of minutes.
According to Cherry Growers of Australia acting president and Adelaide Hills cherry grower, Nick Noske, many of the orchards in South Australia had been impacted. Hardest hit were farmers who grew early harvesting varieties, which would have been ready to pick in the next week.
Noske said the impact had so far been limited to the start of the season with cherries that were mostly set to be exported. "Growers have a constant stream of varieties maturing … it just puts a bit of a gap in their production schedule," Noske said. "It is really a cash flow hit to growers, I don't think it is going to affect consumers too much."
Potato farmers have also experienced losses from the weather. South East farmer Terry Buckley said at least $100,000 of his crop had been drowned after having 70 mm of rain at his property. "It is only one or two per cent, but it is still significant … we grow 25,000 tons of spuds," he said.
The damage was mostly limited to potato farms which had clay soils, so Buckley believed another potato shortage was not yet on the cards.
"It is not posing a serious risk at this time," he said.