Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Storms have destroyed several crops in southern Australia’s central north, prompting a farmer to publicly declare that he was cutting off social ties with any deniers of climate change.

“This is the anxiety that farmers now have to live with every day as these intense storms become more routine.”

Sir. Lehmann said neither he nor his father had seen such an intense storm before.

“We have to accept that many things are beyond our control … but today has been the hardest day of farming in my short career,” he said.

Wheat grains on the ground in a fold after a hailstorm.
The hail not only cracked wheat plants, but also knocked their valuable grain to the ground. (Delivered by: Ben Lehmann)

Sir. Lehmann said it was devastating to lose up to 100 percent of the crops in certain parts of his property so close to the harvest.

“They’re just a standing stalk, and it’s torn whole heads on the ground,” he said.

“It almost looks like a lawn mower has been through it. You wouldn’t put a big herd of sheep or cattle over it, and it wouldn’t look that bad.”

A cornfield with a field container ruined by severe weather.
Climate scientists say CSIRO modeling indicates hailstorms, such as those that hit farms in Caltowie, and droughts will become more intense in the future. (Delivered by: David Hodgson)

Coltowie farmer James Moore said about 25 percent of his property was affected and that in some folds he believed he had lost up to 80 percent of his barley.

Moore said with high grain prices and good seasonal conditions, it was frustrating to lose crops just 10 days before harvest.

“It was very annoying. Dad and I said the other day that we were surprised at how good the year looked and how good the prices were,” he said.

Weather events predicted to be more extreme

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Rain hits Renmark, and floods hit Whyalla on Saturday.(ABC News)

University of Southern Queensland climate researcher Roger Stone said it was difficult to attribute a single event to climate change, but it interacts with naturally occurring weather patterns and makes them more extreme.

He said the recent violent storms were primarily a result of the annual La Niña event, which took place later than usual.

La Niña is the result of the warm waters around northern Australia interacting with cooler sea temperatures in the eastern Pacific, which cause spring volatility.

A close-up of hail in a farmer's hand.
Hail thrashed, among other things, Ben Lehmann’s property at Caltowie. (Delivered by: Ben Lehmann)

“Unfortunately, it developed at exactly the wrong time of year for our harvest around the country.”

Professor Stone said CSIRO modeling has shown for many years that more intense droughts and hailstorms can be expected in the future.


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