Wheels set to turn on hail damage clean up

GOING FORWARD: Alan Brown is the NSW Farmers Wagga and district branch chairman and talks about the hail damage to crops throughout the Riverina and southern NSW. Picture: Les Smith
GOING FORWARD: Alan Brown is the NSW Farmers Wagga and district branch chairman and talks about the hail damage to crops throughout the Riverina and southern NSW. Picture: Les Smith

TO say crops in this region are looking magnificent could be an understatement.

However, for those who have had winter crops affected by hail it's a completely different story.

In some parts, barley, wheat and canola has been wiped out. Alan Brown is NSW Farmers Association, Wagga and district branch chairman, and he is also an insurance assessor for damaged crops.

He said there were areas around Junee and to the north of Wagga which had been badly impacted by hail.

Despite what initially looked like some bag-busting crops there were landholders who were faced with an upcoming clean-up operation. Widespread rain in the past two weeks has been welcomed and provided a good finish to crops, and it also helped to boost lucerne and pastures.

However, for those hail damaged crops disease was setting in to the hail damaged pods.

"There is bruising on the pods, and disease will be a problem," Mr Brown said when referring to the hail damaged crops.

He was still travelling the paddocks and inspecting hail damage but said there was discussion on what needed to be done going forward. It wasn't a matter of simply leaving the crops on the ground.

"Some of those severely damaged crops around Junee are a real problem because they have been trashed ... but there is still a large bulk of material to deal with," he said.

"Most people seem to be favouring the option of trying to put a header through and smash the stuff up, it can't be used for anything," he said.

Mr Brown said one farmer he had contact with was attempting to put the damaged crops into silage.

"The state of (crop) development is a bit late for silage," he said. "Most of the crop has had the leaf stripped off it."

"But you have to do something with it, it can't stay there ... it needs to be smashed up," he said.

Meanwhile, he welcomed the recent rain and said it had overall been beneficial for crops. However, areas such as Tumbarumba were now starting to deal with the logistics of cleaning up after flooding.

For the regions around Wagga, and Coolamon and throughout the eastern Riverina towards Lockhart there were hopes for a great season and lucrative harvest.

"Wheat is going to fill exceptionally well and the (rain) is great in terms of a good finish," he said.

The first headers are set to start work around the West Wyalong area, and north of Wagga in as soon as 10 days. Windrowing of canola has already started in these areas.