Ballarat vegetable growers welcome recent rain, unfazed by cold snap

GROWING GREEN: Navigator farmer David Tatman has welcomed the recent rainfall for his organic vegetable crops. Picture: Kate Healy
GROWING GREEN: Navigator farmer David Tatman has welcomed the recent rainfall for his organic vegetable crops. Picture: Kate Healy

Local vegetable growers have welcomed the recent heavy rain and say their crops have survived the cold snap, unscathed.

Clarkes Hill potato farmer, Don Prendergast said the 70mm of rain that fell over the weekend was a “relief”. “We are in a better place this week than last,” he said. “January was pretty dry. We could have done with some rain then.”

Mr Prendergast said the potato-growing season runs from late March through to May so harvesting was almost complete. He said they have not yet calculated the exact tonnage but this season’s yield looks slightly less than previous years.

“So far, I don’t think there have been any detrimental effects [from the cold] … I have seen times when heavy rain has washed the potatoes out of the ground.” He attributes the good result to the potato variety, the Innovator, they have planted. “It’s much more hardy.” Mr Prendergast has been growing potatoes and farming his 202-hectare property for more than 40 years. He is philosophical about the weather and its erratic schedule. “That’s part of farming,” he said.

David Tatman, who owns and runs Spring Creek Organic Farm at Navigator agrees that nature’s recent rain dump and cold blast was “not too bad.”

He has been running his 12.2-hectare organic vegetable farm and business for eight years, supplying local farmer’s markets. He opened the farm gate business about five years ago and says return customers now make up 90 per cent of his clientele.

”It comes down to taste … they say it tastes like what they remember from childhood,” he said. Mr Tatman said it had been very dry earlier in the year and that had meant more watering, but with winter crops planted now, the cold had not had a big impact.

Which is just as well, says Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Stewart, as Ballarat’s chilly run is set to continue. “There is a cold front coming in tomorrow, with a maximum of 12 degrees, a top of 11 on  Wednesday, 12 on Thursday, 13 degrees on Friday, 12 on Saturday and a maximum of 14 on Sunday.”

“There won’t be much more rain coming,” he said. Mr Stewart said the recent cold snap was not that unusual. “Looking back over the years – and we have recorded temperatures since 1957,14 degrees is the average for the first half of May.

“The end of April and the start of May this year has been very warm with temperatures of 20, 21 and 19.5 degrees,so it is more of a contrast than in previous years.”