Wallup crop fire causes farmers long-term consequences

A BIG crop fire at Wallup on Sunday could cause long-term consequences for farmers. 

A header harvesting lentils sparked the 300-hectare fire on Simon Tickner’s property before it spread to three other farms. 

Peter Schmidt lost about 65 hectares of barley and wheat, worth $70,000, in the blaze. 

“It is a loss but with insurance it shouldn’t be too bad – we should come out of it reasonably,” he said. 

“Our biggest concern is what will happen next year because there is a lot of grain on the ground. 

“I don’t know what we are going to be able to sow back onto the country, or if we can put stock on it.”

Country Fire Authority and Department of Environment and Primary Industries crews, two fixed-wing bombers and a water-bombing helicopter took an hour to control the fire.

It burnt 210 hectares of lentils, barley and vetch on Mr Tickner’s property. 

He said the financial cost of the fire was significant. 

“One of the reasons we are distressed is because of the damage it caused to our neighbours’ crops,” he said.

“My understanding is that all the crops – both mine and the neighbours’ – are insured so that reduces the financial impact.

“We are thankful for the rapid response of our neighbours and Country Fire Authority to get the fire out and stop it from reaching the Barrett Reserve.”

Mr Tickner said the Wimmera’s dry, dusty conditions had increased the risk of fire. 

Harvesting sparked fires at Nhill, Grass Flat, Netherby, Sheep Hills, Rupanyup and Kellalac on Monday. 

“It is something we experienced in the mid-2000s while harvesting legumes,” he said. 

“This year we have high-yielding lentil crops with a lot of dry matter and there hasn’t been a lot of rain in recent weeks to wash dust off the crop.

“We hope the rain we had on Tuesday will reduce the likelihood of this happening for the rest of harvest.”

KALKEE farmer Peter Jenkinson said 28 hectares of his property bordering Blue Ribbon Road were affected by fire on Monday.

“There were 28 hectares of paddock,” he said.

“Of that, there were eight hectares of lentil crop.

“The header was responsible for starting the fire, due to atmospheric conditions.”

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