29 November 2020

Strong winds, high temps force harvest stoppages

| Edwina Mason
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High temperatures and high winds conspired to halt the harvest out in the South West Slopes. Photo: Supplied.

With temperatures creeping towards the 40 degree mark and expected 46 kilometre per hour wind gusts, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) requested harvest operators in the South West Slopes to reconsider their harvest plans on Saturday.

Due to the increased risk of fire in Cootamundra-Gundagai and Hilltops local government areas, the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) requested harvest operators immediately stop and check local weather conditions before deciding whether it is safe to continue harvesting.

Harvest alerts have been sent to all broadacre farmers in the district with the RFS saying that under the current conditions, fires will start easily and spread rapidly.

They have the potential to threaten life and property, as well as destroying millions of dollars’ worth of crop and equipment.

“During summer 2016-17 an estimated 40 headers were lost in NSW alone with an average cost of $750,000 per unit,” the RFS has warned.

Ahead of the forecast weather Graincorp on Friday night made the decision to close silos in the western part of the state including Bribbaree, Milvale and Quandialla which are located on the western edges of the South West Slopes.

Graincorp area manager Rodney Crowe said the closure was considered necessary given the extreme weather conditions as a means of deterring farmers from continuing to harvest.

“But there is also a real threat, because of the high winds, trucks could be blown over as they’re tipping grain into the bunkers,” he said, “we don’t want that happening either”.

Those conducting harvesting are advised to do the following:

Stop: Stop Harvesting Operations.
Check: Check weather conditions, check the grain harvesting guide, and check your equipment.
Decide: Only resume operations if safe to do so and regularly reassess the conditions.

The NSW RFS said they appreciate the cooperation of farmers on days of heightened fire danger.

“Stopping harvesting until weather conditions ease lowers the risk of fires breaking out and can prevent a great deal of damage,” they said.

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