Storm de­stroys grapes

Hills Gazette (Kalamunda) - - NEWS -

SWAN Val­ley ta­ble grape grow­ers have been hit hard for the sec­ond year in a row, with some los­ing al­most half their har­vest in one day af­ter a freak storm last week.

Some prop­er­ties in the region had up to 93mm of rain in one day due to a trop­i­cal low caused by ex-trop­i­cal cy­clone Joyce, mov­ing from the north coast of WA and caus­ing havoc for grow­ers with un­sea­sonal weather.

Matt Katich said he lost al­most half his fruit from two of the va­ri­eties he grew.

“We have lost about 40 to 50 per cent of flame seed­less and mid­night beauty va­ri­eties, which are sus­cep­ti­ble to rain dam­age,” he said.

“The rain causes the grapes to split and the fun­gus grows in the split.”

Mr Katich’s prop­erty was one of sev­eral in the Swan Val­ley to be hit by two sep­a­rate weather events within the space of two weeks in Fe­bru­ary last year, which caused ma­jor flood­ing and dam­age to vines.

“Last year we had two weather events, so last year was a lot worse. These weather events are usu­ally a one in 10-year event – now we’ve had them two years in a row,” he said.

“I’m not a cli­mate sci­en­tist but if you lis­ten to what they are say­ing, Perth is get­ting less rain in win­ter and more rain in sum­mer.

“We will prob­a­bly look at in­vest­ing in plas­tic cov­ers for next year. It comes at a cost but it’s bet­ter than the al­ter­na­tive.”

Thanks to last week’s del­uge, this sum­mer has been ranked as the fourth wettest on record, with the Bureau of Metrol­ogy pre­dict­ing more wet weather and colder tem­per­a­tures from Fe­bru­ary to April.

Swan Val­ley and Re­gional Wine­mak­ers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Yuri Berns said wine grapes had been less af­fected by the rain, but the rain would have an ef­fect on dates for this year’s vin­tage.

He said chang­ing cli­mate con­di­tions would most likely mean more se­vere weather events and meant grow­ers needed to be more in­no­va­tive in their ap­proach to grape grow­ing.

“The in­dus­try is aware and con­cerned of the chang­ing weather and ex­treme weather events. Not just rain, but ex­treme heat and bush­fires,” he said

“In the fu­ture the way we grow our grapes may change. The ma­jor change might be the va­ri­eties, so drought-tol­er­ant and dis­ease-re­sis­tant.”

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