Many crops in the Rochester, Elmore and Goornong region have been cut for hay after being damaged by frost recently.By Elaine Cooney
Farmers from Rochester to Goornong were forced to make quick decisions about their frost-damaged crops last week.
Damage caused by frost from October 15-18 began to show in the grain paddocks last week.
Elmore Landmark agronomist Greg Toomey was busy helping farmers in the region decide if their grain crops were destroyed and needed to be baled for hay or if they could be salvaged.
Mr Toomey said 80 per cent of low-lying grain crops in the region suffered frost damage, while 10 to 40 per cent of canola in the district was damaged.
‘‘I don’t think anyone (farmers) in this area escaped (damage),’’ he said.
Mr Toomey said the extent of the damage depended on the elevation and maturity of the crops.
He said the mature crops with firm grains were spared.
He compared the frost-damaged grains to a bottle of Coke left in the freezer.
‘‘The less water in it (grains), the less likely they were to swell and bust,’’ he said.
Mr Toomey said farmers had to decide what percentage loss they would suffer if they did not bale the crops and how much the hay would be worth.
‘‘We go through the sums and establish the grain yields and hay yields and compare to one another what the best tactic is,’’ he said.
‘‘We just try to salvage something out of it.’’
Colbinabbin farmer Peter Morgan said it was too early to make a decision about his frost-damaged crops, but did not think they were severely impacted.
Another Colbinabbin farmer, who did not wish to be named, said most of her crops were affected and noticed the grains shrivelled up inside the hull when inspecting them last week.
She said frost damage was harder to cope with than the drought because it happened overnight and had serious effects.
Corop farmer John Kennedy decided to bale his 300 hectares for hay on Wednesday.
Despite 40 per cent of his crops being destroyed, he remained optimistic.
‘‘Canola and some more wheat were not affected,’’ he said.
‘‘You get used to it; you change your ideas and make hay instead.’’
Mr Kennedy said it was important to bale the wheat before it became dry.
While he lost money, he said the sale of hay would help recoup some of the loss.
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