Grain losses to hail hit 37,000t

30 Oct, 2015 01:00 AM

HAIL has caused losses of about 37,000 tonnes of grain in WA's south east, with some growers reporting almost total crop losses across their properties.

The hail hit areas around Newdegate, Varley, Holt Rock and East Hyden earlier this month and assessors are still working out the real damage.

Just north east of Newdegate, Amanda and Craig Shalders had hail damage to 2300 hectares of their crop, with 1155ha assessed at 100 per cent lost.

Mr Shalders was at a football camp with his son Lachlan when the storm hit and Ms Shalders listened to the hail fall with a roar at home.

Their rain gauge was smashed in the storm, a shed door has blown off of its runner and holes were made in their verandah and shed roof from hail "as big as marbles".

"There's 1500ha we won't get a header in," Mr Shalders said.

In other paddocks, such as their lupins, Mr Shalders acknowledged there wouldn't be much left but said he would try and get what he could to assist in feeding the 8200 sheep he runs.

Prior to the hail, Mr Shalders said his season was going okay and would produce about average yields, but he tipped an early holiday season.

"I think the worst part is our pasture," he said.

"We had grass spraytopped and it's cut it off and blown.

"We've had hail before but nothing like this, you might get a bit in one paddock but not across the whole farm.

"It came out of nowhere, there was no forecast that we saw and now the wheat looks like it's been harvested.

"With some of the paddocks I've driven past you question whether it was ever a crop."

Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA) Oats Council member and Varley grower Anna-Lisa Newman said most growers had insurance to help cover their losses, but it would be a slow process as the assessors moved through the region.

She said the priority of paddock management would have to wait until word from the assessors came through.

"A lot of these guys, especially the younger ones, haven't had to deal with hail before so we're waiting to see what the official process is," Ms Newman said.

"All they're doing is starting to prepare the sheep and feed them the grain they might be going into.

GIWA advises clean up, paddock management and preparing stock for the feed are critical processes all growers needed to be aware of.

It says contractors affected by loss of work due to the hail should look for alternatives, particularly in the Esperance Port Zone which is tipped to be having a bumper season.

Ms Newman said the community was banding together to support everyone and a post-harvest community barbecue was on the cards.

Growers are reportedly helping employees find work through contacts to avoid loss of income.

They're also discussing filling contracts to avoid wash-outs, with neighbours who will get good yields taking on this responsibility.

Ms Newman said community was very important at such a time and it was clear people were helping out where they could.

She said her brother-in-law Charlie Newman had about 25pc of his program affected, with 100pc damage to 700ha of wheat and 30-40pc damage to 700ha of canola and oats.



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