Australia - Murray River flooding persists with grape, citrus growers facing uncertainty over harvest

09.12.2022 180 views

Three quarters of Roberto Fuoco's table grape property in north-west Victoria is underwater and more rain is expected in the coming days.

The harvest at his Nichols Point property would usually begin in February, but at this stage it's unclear if any of his fruit could be picked. 

The situation was probably not helped by the fact the only way he could get around his vines was via canoe.  

Mr Fuoco expected crop losses and redevelopment costs on his property to add up to millions of dollars. 

The Australian Table Grape Association's industry development manager Jenny Treeby said hundreds of hectares of crop was under threat.

"There are two different types of growers, ones that have built levees, they are going to be worrying for a long time about whether they'll break or not," Ms Treeby said

"Then there's a smaller number of growers that are fully inundated."

Ms Treeby said it was unclear what kind of impact the flooding would have on vine health and grape production.

"Most of the science we can access has only been for vines that have been inundated for up to six weeks, this will be much longer," she said.

Thousands of hectares impacted

The latest figures from Agriculture Victoria shows more than 498,629 hectares of farmland had been flood affected.

There's been 15,662 livestock deaths reported and almost 12,000 kilometres of damaged fencing.

Rural Financial Counsellors are helping flood-affected farmers apply for grants, loans and subsidies.

Further downstream in New South Wales, flooding was also affecting John Waters's eight hectares of citrus.

"I can't even do anything on the property because there's water through everything. If there's disease control or anything it can't be done unless you bring in an aerial sprayer," he said.

The flood peak has been revised several times and was now not expected to arrive until later this month.

That means Mr Waters would need to continue accessing his property by boat for several weeks.

"When the floods come up here, they stay around for a long time, so it will be months before I can get back in the orchard again," Mr Waters said.

Authorities predict the Murray River at Mildura will peak between December 15 and 17.

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