If you visited Earl Stanley’s turf farm in Taree on the Mid North Coast a few months ago, you would have seen a sea of green, premium turf.
- Many turf farms in the Hawkesbury region and on the Mid North Coast have been affected by the NSW floods
- A supplier based at Windsor has lost millions of dollars worth of turf crops
- Many growers fear the extensive damage will trigger a turf shortage
But when the Manning River broke its banks in March, more than half the property was smothered in mud.
Lynne Bonser has worked at Earl’s Turf for more than a decade, and she’s never seen the property so badly hit.
“Those who were alive in the 78 floods and remember them say the current was just so much faster [during this flood],” she said.
“The debris that washed onto the farm was just unbelievable.”
Ms Bonser said the business had lost roughly 50 per cent of their turf crop, which covered almost 32 hectares of land.
“We have 316,000 square metres of turf, and we have well and truly lost half of that,” she said.
“We’re estimating about $230,000 worth of damage to our turf.
The business is now in the process of trying to re-establish their destroyed turf crops, which takes anywhere from nine to 12 months to grow.
“But now is the wrong time to be planting, so we probably won’t replant till early spring,” she said.
“So that means we won’t be able to harvest the turf till around 12 months later.”
Similar story for major Sydney suppliers
Jevon Sammut’s large-scale turf business is based near Windsor in Sydney, in the city’s largest region for turf production.
“There is probably the most turf farms in one area here in the whole of Australia, and we all supply out to Melbourne and Queensland and all over the country,” he said.
“[My farm is] probably 130-140 acres big [56.66 hectares] … it all went under.”
“Probably 80 per cent [of our turf] was damaged.”
Mr Sammut said he was not the only one who was badly hit.
“All the turf farms around here went under,” he said.
Mr Sammut said his farm alone had incurred millions of dollars worth of damage.
“All our sheds [were impacted]. All our crops went under. People that have houses that live here went under, too,” he said.
Businesses will bounce back
Jenny Zadro from Turf Australia, the peak industry body for turf production in Australia, said the March floods had devastated many farms across the state.
“Many of our growers are used to dealing with floods. Most farms are built on flood plains, particularly in the Hawkesbury,” Ms Zadro said.
“But this flood was particularly damaging.”
Ms Zadro said growers had to outsource their turf supply to fill the shortage.
“Obviously, it’s going to be a lot cheaper if they’ve got it in their own paddock. But the industry is coming together amazingly,” she said.
“There are growers that are buying in turf, and other farms in New South Wales still have good supply.
Ms Zadro said it was vital consumers had patience and continued to buy from flood-affected businesses.
“What we recommend is people maintain working with the grower that they normally would as that’s going to help them keep their business going,” she said.
“If you do find you’re having to wait a little bit longer, it’ll be worth the wait as there are many benefits of natural living turf for the environment and the community.”