Worst frost since 1977 caused extensive damage to Victorian crops, Australia

A late spring cold snap ripped through western and central Victoria this month, causing extensive agricultural damage. Older farmers in the region say it was ‘the worst frost since 1977.’

Agriculture Victoria’s southwest grains regional manager Rob O’Shannessy estimated farmer losses from the frosts at A$100 – 180 million (US$76 – 137 million). This included frost damage this month, as well as earlier, smaller frosts in the North East and northern Wimmera.

However, the figure is expected to climb once losses for Grampians and Pyrenees wine grapes and Swan Hill stonefruit are factored in.

O’Shannessy said the worst-affected area was a region bordered by Tatyoon, Lake Bolac, Skipton, St Arnaud, Kaniva, Warracknabeal, and Stawell.

The first and worst widespread frost hit on November 4. Typical first frost is November 10.

Credit: YYJ Weather Records

“Damage ranges from 10% of the affected crop to 100% wipe-out, depending on topography, moisture and a range of other issues,” O’Shannessy said.

“The frosts have been a cruel blow to growers when they were rightly thinking that they were close to harvest and to getting very good yields,” he added.

Gorst Rural agronomist Ash Maconachie said older farmers in the region claimed it was ‘the worst frost since 1977,’ when a bad, late-season frost also hit potentially high-yielding crops.

Featured image: Frost gate by Christian Collins (Flickr)

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