Farmers and winemakers from Great Western to Lake Bolac lose wheat and vineyard grapes to 2017 late frost

FARMERS and winemakers from Great Western to Buangor and Lake Bolac have been devastated by late frosts that caused tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Though the damage level was varied by factors such as location and the lay of the land, some farmers have lost up to half their wheat crop.

Some wineries have lost 60 per cent of their grapes, with Grampians Estate losing its entire Great Western vineyard to frost.

The disaster was predicted to hit not only farmers but the whole region’s economy, as millions of dollars of income would no longer be there to be spent.

Willaura farmer Andrew Byron said a substantial amount of his income from crops.

“It has hit us big time,” he said.

“Conservatively, we have lost 50 per cent of everything, possibly more.

“That affects canola, wheat and barley. I think the biggest losses are starting from the Willaura to Lake Bolac line across east heading towards Maroona and Tatyoon, they’re the most affected areas.”

Grampians Estate owner Tom Guthrie said his winery had been hit and he had heard that most others in the region had suffered losses as well.

“We’ve got a diversified farming business, of which Grampians Estate is a part.

“We had a weather station at our vineyard at Great Western and the temperature dropped to minus 3.1.

“Whilst we have fans, they were not able to do anything so all 12 acres of our vineyard at Great Western is a write-off.”

Mr Guthrie said he had a separate smaller vineyard and could import grapes but 60 per cent of his fruit was in Great Western. 

“It’s a major hit,” he said.

Lake Bolac Gorst Rural general manager and agronomist Cam Conboy said many farms had been hit to varying degrees.

“We’ve got a team of agronomists about in the field as well as myself and we have seen some pretty widespread crop damage from Maroona to Rossbridge, Tatyoon, Buangor down to Skipton across to Willaura and Glenthompson.

“Wheat has been hit really hard.”

Mr Conboy said the canola he had seen had mostly been OK but every crop had been affected in some way.

The Victorian Farmers Federation will hold a meeting at 5.30pm on Thursday at Tatyoon Hall.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation has put together some online resources for dealing with the financial and emotional impact of late season frosts.