Frost bites for local growers

A WEEK ago there was light at the end of the tunnel for Yenda farmer Mitch Bianchini.

The black frost in October last year wiped out 95 per cent of his wine grapes and he had been hit by the flood in 2012.

It's safe to say it had been a tough couple of years for Mr Bianchini and his wife Judy.

CONCERNED: Yenda farmer Mitch Bianchini is concerned the recent frosts may have damaged his Valencia oranges.

CONCERNED: Yenda farmer Mitch Bianchini is concerned the recent frosts may have damaged his Valencia oranges.

However, things appeared to be turning around.

"Up until a week ago it has been a good winter," Mr Bianchini said.

"The frosts weren't severe."

However, that changed overnight last Thursday.

"For six nights we had frosts every night," Mr Bianchini said.

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While he is not certain of the damage to his Valencia oranges, it could potentially mean instead of making between $250 and $350 per tonne he may be forced to take as little as $80 per tonne.

Mr Bianchini was assessing the damage on Wednesday and said it wasn't a good sign that oranges were falling off the trees when he touched them.

He said probably half the oranges would fall off the trees.

"When you see a lot of oranges on the ground that will probably be a a result of what the frost has done," Mr Bianchini said.

He said the blow came after he made a small profit from his oranges last year, with the citrus industry "starting to pick up".

Mr Bianchini said it was a very tough time for farmers.

He said farmers were now having to accept half as much money for their produce as 15 years ago.

"There's no government assistance, there's no one there to help us - you have to sell to reduce or clear debt or just get out of farming," Mr Bianchini said.

While he has vowed to soldier on, coming from a long line of farmers, he said at times it was an emotional roller-coaster.

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