Low temps, low stress as solid citrus harvest predicted

Griffith citrus surviving record 2017 winter


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Farmers say their citrus crop have survived Griffith's coolest winter on record.

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LAST June proved to be one of the coldest and driest winters on record in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, putting farmers’ stress levels to the test. 

The average minimum temperature for Griffith for June was a mere one degree, which is the lowest recorded average temperature since the early 1970s. 

Average rainfall for the month of June was the lowest it has been since 1984 with an average of 2.2 millimeters of rainfall. 

The persisting frost and the lack of rain has had a detrimental effect on local citrus crops in previous years, causing the fruit to be dry or fall off the trees before harvest.

The effects of the colder-than-usual climate usually impacts crop pricing and potentially the livelihood of the farmers. 

Citrus farmers were predicted to also be one of the most affected by the recent main canal update, relying on limited supply over the unusually dry winter.

Despite the statistics, Griffith growers generally survived the weather and expect a solid harvest. 

Long-time citrus farmer Tom Brighenti says the frost has had little effect on his citrus crop, which is almost ready for harvest. 

"The frost has really affected us in the past," Mr Brighenti said.

"Some farms have machinery similar to fans, which blow the frost away from the crops.

"So far the frost hasn't been a problem for us, which is unusual."

Hanwood citrus farmer, Nino Gatto, runs his business alongside his two sons, and said a fair amount of rain always helps the crop.

However, the family has relied on their irrigation system kicking in with this winter’s lack of rainfall. 

According to Mr Gatto, the size of the fruit have shrunk compared to past seasons, specifically naval oranges. 

"Our Valencia oranges, which are harvested a bit later, are looking to be a heavier crop this year,” Mr Gatto said.

“I've heard of some farms affected by frost but so far we have been lucky here in Hanwood."

Blame was not directly placed on the colder climate as many factors contribute to a successful harvest.

MIA farmers are taking a breath of relief with promises of a successful harvest and warmer weather in the near future.

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