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Millions of dollars worth of Victorian crops destroyed in 'absolutely terrifying' freak storm

By Eden Hynninen and Cherie von Horchner, Wednesday January 6, 2021 - 17:17 EDT
ABC image
Nangiloc grower Glen Goldup says his entire crop has been damaged or destroyed. - ABC

Millions of dollars worth of horticultural crops have been destroyed at a number of properties in northern Victoria, when a freak hailstorm ripped through towns along the Murray River.

Nangiloc farmer Glen Goldup said his entire fruit and vegetable crop had been damaged or destroyed, as oranges ripped off trees and pumpkins split.

Mr Goldup is now counting the cost of the damage and starting the recovery process.

He said his family watched the storm approach on New Year's Day.

'It was terrifying'

"It was absolutely terrifying. My wife and I were driving down the road when it hit, there were branches hitting the car," Mr Goldup said.

"Our kids were at home and our daughter texted us and said our trampoline had just flown across the yard and into the tree."

He said he was trying to salvage a small percentage of his 12 hectares of pumpkins.

"There's a lot of stuff that probably needs to be pulled off before harvest. Some varieties won't get picked before September," he said.

"I want to get it off the tree and just grow the good stuff."

Many homes had been

Mr Goldup said he remembered a similar storm back in 2011, but hoped to never see anything like it again.

"Some of the hailstones when they were hitting the ground were bouncing back up, six or seven feet."

Million of dollars worth of damage

Just up the road in Colignan, biodynamic farmer Rob Keens said the storm had caused millions of dollars worth of damage to his crops.

"The hail was golf ball size," Mr Keens said.

"We were probably a month away from starting our almond harvest. A lot of the trees basically look like they've been shaken ? all of the nuts have fallen to the ground.

"Also the citrus, oranges, mandarins, lemons and avocados ? there's been significant damage to them as well."

Mr Keens said the full extent of the damage may not be realised until his fruit matured and he could see the blemishes.

"They'll be of a lesser quality, whatever is left," he said.

"We do have hail damage crop insurance for the almonds, but we don't have that for the citrus ? our losses will be in the millions."

Rain in the south west

Ash Nelson, a mixed cropping farmer in Cressy in south-west Victoria, said he received a downpour of 80 millimetres of rain and hail in the space of two hours.

"I've been farming for 45 years and have never seen rain come down that heavy or that quick," Mr Nelson said.

"It's mainly caused damage to the crops and with the hay, and waterlogging the paddocks ? making it very hard for farmers to access their paddocks."

He was worried the wet conditions could affect grain quality and weight.

"If we start getting more [rain] and we don't get some decent fine weather to get on with the job, things will get pretty hard for us."


© ABC 2021

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