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Ripe for picking

Thursday, 20th December, 2018

Carlo Lombardo in the family’s vineyard at Menindee yesterday. PICTURE: Myles Burt Carlo Lombardo in the family’s vineyard at Menindee yesterday. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

Grape harvesting will start soon in Menindee where the Lombardo brothers run one of the three vinyards left in the town.

Carlo and Tony Lombardo said grape prices had been rising over the last three years, which had encouraged the two other farmers to plant their vines. 

But the businesses were constantly on edge and waiting for fresh flows to come their way to wash away the salt that threatens to kill their vines.

Usually the flows arrive, said Carlo, but it was hard to rely on the river anymore.

“With the fresh water, the water isn’t as salty and we can kind of get them going again properly, but if they can’t control the water better, I suppose every time you dodge a bullet there’s going to be one with your name on it.

“Hopefully the water does come down and they start controlling the water better so we’re not getting into these stupid situations.”

The Lombardos said they were looking to harvest in the next couple of days. 

“We use some locals but you’d never get enough to pick them,” Carlo said. “I’d be here till Easter time still picking, so we have to get them from away.

“We do use locals, but when we can’t find them we just use people from away because it’s got to be picked in ten days. They can’t just hang around for weeks.”

The Darling River remains in a terrible state and Carlo said he just wanted the irrigators in the Northern Basin to do the right thing by everyone on the river. 

“At the moment it’s just shit, isn’t it?

“If we don’t get an inflow in the next six months we’re in trouble.

“We’ve just got to go back to keeping lakes Pamamaroo and Wetherell full and just dribbling that out.”

But with no improvement in the management of the river and lakes in sight, Carlo Lombardo said he just hoped that the drought would end soon.

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