Wild winds wreak havoc on greenhouses

Wild winds wreak havoc on greenhouses

Horticulture
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Recent wild weather on the Northern Adelaide Plains has left a path of damaged or destroyed greenhouses in its wake, and while some clean-up efforts have begun, the recovery process is likely to take several months.

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Recent wild weather on the Northern Adelaide Plains has left a path of damaged or destroyed greenhouses in its wake, and while some clean-up efforts have begun, the recovery process is likely to take several months.

Across a four-day period in the middle of September, more than 2000 greenhouses across the area were impacted by stormy conditions, and winds of up to 80 kilometres an hour.

Ausveg SA has estimated the overall monetary value of the damage to be in excess of $2 million, including greenhouse damage, impacts to production, and effects on a number of horticultural field crops.

Ausveg SA chair Kingsley Songer said the severe wind gusts were widespread, with the duration of the extreme weather causing headaches for growers.

"We had consecutive days of really strong winds, and once the plastic starts to tear, it's easy pickings if you get hit a day or two later - the wind just tears it off," he said.

"In some places, even some of the steel frames were bent, it was a fair blow.

"Any crops that were in the greenhouses that were damaged got fairly battered."

Mr Songer said no single grower had been "completely decimated" by the weather, with most growers only seeing damage to a few of their greenhouses.

It's very unusual for wind damage to be this severe, especially in winter and spring. - TEK LIN

"Greenhouses that were close to roads or vacant spaces were hit the hardest, anything that wasn't protected from the wind got torn up a fair bit," he said.

He said the winds came at a particularly unfortunate time, with some cucumber growers just one or two weeks away from harvest.

While the clean-up process is well under way for many, Mr Songer said equipment hold-ups were delaying the process.

"Not many people have a stock of plastic on-hand, and it isn't readily available either, some are waiting for it to turn up so repairs can start," he said.

Virginia capsicum grower Tek Lin lost the plastic off nine of his greenhouses, with one other greenhouse having been completely destroyed by the windy conditions.

"Replacing plastic is easy, but when the steel frame gets uprooted, you have to completely rebuild," he said.

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Mr Lin was also hit by extreme winds in early July, which uprooted one greenhouse, with the total value of the damage across the two events estimated at $20,000.

"I've never seen damage this bad before, usually we lose a bit of plastic in summer, but it's very unusual for wind damage to be this severe, especially in winter and spring," he said.

"There is no windbreak around here, so the wind just goes straight through."

Financial advice and support is available for growers impacted by the wild weather, through Rural Business Support or PIRSA's Family and Business Support program.

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