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Fears of worst locust plague since 2004 for NSW farmers

Locusts have destroyed almost 10,000 hectares of barley and wheat crops in Central West NSW around Forbes, with fears of a plague to rival that seen across NSW in 2004.

Locusts NSWForbes agronomist Graham Falconer predicts insect numbers will get worse as the year progresses, with farmers at Parkes now considering whether to spray.

“Some farmers are taking it into their own hands because there’s quite large scale damage on a lot of properties,” Mr Falconer told ABC Radio this morning.

“I think we’re going to have major problems in the spring as well but at the moment we’re having a lot of problems, particularly with the early sown wheat crops and barley crops. They don’t seem to like the oats as much.” Mr Falconer said.

Farmers had been hoping for a good season this year after years of drought conditions, but rains have improved conditions for locusts as well.

“We’ve had a difficult time with the drought and this is the first good early break we’ve had in at least 10 years.” said Mr Falconer

“Farmers were looking forward to getting some early sown crops in, particularly for grazing. A lot of those crops have been badly damaged by locusts and some will not come back. One farmer has about 400 hectares which will have to be resown,” he said.

Parkes agronomist Peter Yelland says some of the farmers are hesitant to start planning with a locust population in the area.

“Most guys are looking to start sowing canola for example in the next two weeks.”

“I guess it’s fear of the unknown, because we haven’t been faced with the plague locusts for early-sown canola crops. When you’re talking of seed [which costs] between $10 and $25 a kilo, it’s a risk growers aren’t willing to take.” Mr Yelland said.

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David Olsen

David Olsen

An undercover economist and a not so undercover geek. Politics, business and psychology nerd and anti-bandwagon jumper. Can be found on Twitter: <a href="http://www.twitter.com/DDsD">David Olsen - DDsD</a>

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