Crops flattened by severe storm

FULL FORCE: Don Steffens, of Felton, had a tree land on his house during last weekend’s storm.
FULL FORCE: Don Steffens, of Felton, had a tree land on his house during last weekend’s storm. Dave Noonan

FARMERS in Felton watched helplessly as hailstones shredded hectare after hectare of valuable crops last weekend.

Paddocks now lie bare in the sprawling hillside where, only days before, fresh young sorghum crops were starting to take shape.

Felton grain and cattle farmer Jacqui Payne said she had never witnessed a storm like this one since she began farming in 1980.

I was in the back paddock harvesting chickpeas and thought I better get everything under cover.

"It was devastating," she said.

"Everything has just been flattened."

The storm, which tore the roof off a diesel tank shed and threw it into a silo before wrapping it around a tree, had slashed through more than 80ha of sorghum and grain crops.

"The wind was so strong, even with the windows closed the water just kept coming through," she said.

Mrs Payne said it was now up to the insurance assessors to figure out the total cost of the damage.

"Some people say the sorghum could sprout back up but I'm not sure," she said.

Just down the road, fellow farmer Ken Keleher's property also copped the full force of the storm. The roof of one of his sheds was torn off while fields of sorghum were destroyed by the hail.

"I just finished planting another 100 acres (40.46ha) of sorghum and now it won't take off," he said.

"Some people reckon it can sprout back up but I'll have to wait a few days yet to see if it survives."

Felton farmer Don Steffens said the storm was so loud a gum tree almost went unnoticed as it crashed through the front of his house.

"I was in the back paddock harvesting chickpeas and thought I better get everything under cover," he said.

"But it just came over so quickly."

Topics:  crop damage, grains, hailstones, natural disaster, sorghum, storm



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