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Harvest halved

Thursday, 27th January, 2011

The damage done to one Menindee grape farm from the deluge that hit two weeks ago The damage done to one Menindee grape farm from the deluge that hit two weeks ago

Heavy rain has halved what was tipped to be a bumper grape crop in Menindee.

Two weeks ago growers were confident they'd have their best crop in years but then on January 13 the skies opened.

Grower Paul D'Ettore had just begun harvesting about half a million dollars worth of Menindee seedless grapes when 186mm of rain fell on his block.

Mr D'Ettore, who finished harvesting this week, said only half his crop had been saved.

"If you were able to get half your crop off this year you did fairly well," he said. 

"On the whole, if you got your money back you were pretty happy with that."

Despite the poor harvest, there is still a reasonable supply of grapes, though some of them may not look too good, according to Mr D'Ettore.

"A lot of growers had problems with a superficial dirty mark.

"It's just grime that's washed out of the vines.

"Because we don't wash or dip any of the fruit...there's still this grime."

But Mr D'Ettore said the marks had no effect on taste or quality and they "just need a good wash".

The challenge has not finished with the harvest, however. 

The Bureau of Meteorology has warned that the Menindee area can expect moderate flooding.

Last week the first house in Menindee was inundated by a rising Darling River after State Water increased flows out of the lakes in preparation for more water from the floods in the north.

Mr D'Ettore said everyone was preparing it.

"We're expecting something similar to '96 levels" he said.

"At this stage people are just waiting to see what's happening."

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