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Severe frost damage to canola and lupins in Condobolin, New South Wales

Alex Blucher, Monday August 18, 2014 - 15:12 EST
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Severe frost damage will see early canola crops cut to hay in central west NSW near Condobolin. - ABC

Consecutive heavy frosts have caused damage in early canola and lupin crops around Condobolin in the central west of New South Wales.

Condobolin-based agronomist Chris Baker says many farmers in the region are making the tough decision of whether to cut their crops to hay.

"Basically any canola that was in a frost affected area has lost all its pod-set unfortunately.

"The set pods you could refer to as kernel frosting, the grain has actually formed inside that pod and it has been frozen and that grain is no longer viable," he said.

Mr Baker says it's hard to tell exactly how widespread the frost damage in the region.

"There doesn't seem to be a pattern to it. The Condobolin area that I've been looking at has had five frost events, it's been hard hit," he said.

"There's definitely some lupin crops to the east and north of Condobolin that have been affected by that as well"

He says early sown canola and lupins have been the hardest hit.

"Some of the early sown canola crops that have done the majority of their flowering, growers are looking at cutting those for silage or hay," he said.

"Growers are doing the numbers on those now to see what the best cost recovery is."

Producers who've sustained the worst damage are now counting the financial cost.

"We've probably seen upwards of 20 producers in the last two days who have had frost affected canola in the Condobolin area.

"If you say we looked at 10,000 to 20,000 acres of canola in the last couple of days and the damage ranges anywhere from 5 per cent to 95 per cent, so on average if you've got crops that are almost finished flowering and they've been badly hit, then growers could have had two tonne of the hectare and they could have lost two thirds of that," he says.

If you're looking at canola costing you $250 a hectare to grow, we've got to grow some pods from now on in to get cost recovery.

He says farmers who've planted quick maturing varieties, such as the Monola, have been particularly affected.


© ABC 2014

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