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North East frost damage updates

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Vineyards hit hard by frost
BY ELIZA ADAMTHWAITE

FROSTS over the past two days have been a disaster for vineyards and fruit growers across the North East, causing at least $70 million worth of damage.

At Cheshunt, Chrismont Wines’ Arnie Pizzini said the chardonnay and riesling vines plus some of the Italian varieties had copped the brunt of the frost.

Arnie Pizzini looks at the damage to his chardonnay vines after the frosts this week. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

“We’ve never had frosts like this, not in 20 years. Never,” Mr Pizzini said.

“It’s hit reasonably hard — the real effect will be shown next week when we see if there’s any growth in the shoots.”

The worst of the two frosts was Monday morning but yesterday’s cold was also damaging.

Pizzini Wines’ Joel Pizzini said it was too early to measure the extent of the damage to his vines.

“It’s such a disaster for the whole region as it’s developing in such a strong way,” he said.

“It’s touched up most of our vineyards.

“If the vines were pruned early they were burnt quite badly.

Doug Groom, of Avalon Wines, said the frost had blackened bunches and shoots.

“The early varieties in pinot noir and chardonnay are most severely hit,” he said.

“We’re on a hill and usually survive most frosts.

“But we haven’t had one like this for a while.”

Member for Benalla Bill Sykes and federal member for Murray Sharman Stone have written to Victorian Premier Steve Bracks to demand he declare the frosts as a natural disaster.

But Mr Bracks and Agriculture Minister Bob Cameron refused to make such a declaration yesterday, instead offering other assistance.

Mr Cameron met a handful of growers at Ardmona, west of Shepparton, yesterday and announced that the Department of Primary Industries would help growers put together an application for exceptional circumstances.

He said federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran would accept exceptional circumstances applications over the next fortnight.

Dr Sykes said the State Government’s response was an encouraging step in the right direction.

“It’s a start but the ball is still in Mr Cameron’s court to get the application for EC to Mr McGauran,” he said yesterday.

“We will keep at them to make sure the package is meaningful.”

He also called for more financial counsellors to be employed in the area to support suffering growers.


Frost cost could be $750m says VFF
The Age: September 27, 2006 – 7:39PM
The cost of Monday’s freak frost in the Goulburn Valley could be as high as $750 million, the Victorian Farmers Federation says. … more


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Written by Greg Naylor

27 September 2006 at 11:03 pm

Posted in social comment

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