MARCH 1999 NEWSLETTER
POST CYCLONE RONA - Report
on damage to our farm
Our first newsletter tries to assess the damage we suffered from
Cyclone Rona. Being in South West Tasmania on holiday at the time,
we had 2 weeks to get used to the idea before we actually arrived
Friends from Cairns had spent a weekend at the farm after the cyclone
clearing the debris from the driveways so that the shock was not
so bad when we drove in.
So here is our assessment of the damage.
Buildings, machinery and stock have suffered no damage. The orchard
shows extensive superficial damage but the long term economic future
is unaffected. Major crops of Mangosteen (250 trees) and Salak (1200plants)
have suffered little while other species planted to lift diversity
and provide shade such as bananas and legumes have been decimated.
Gross physical damage to trees is largely confined to 3 bands
running through the block.
One band runs parallel to the driveway through the food forest
over the house and through to the back section around the chookhouse.
Trees damaged in this band, to near ground level include two of
the large Santol, Soursop, Fijian Longan, Icecream Bean, two Marang,
two Rollinia, Rambutan, as well as 5 Glyricidia. Several other trees
are leaning or have lost upper branches and may recover. These include
Marang, Breadfruit, Canistel and Black Sapote.
The second damage band runs from the orchard entrance straight
through the centre of the orchard in a strip around 30 meters wide.
The third band also runs through the orchard, coming in from the
south west corner, running east along the fence line for 100m before
turning in to the Rambai and Soursop.
DETAILS OF THE DAMAGE
The entrance frame of 12 coconuts planted in 1988 has been
flattened. In their falling, they have also taken out several Icecream
Bean, and broken in half two Mangosteens.
All mature or near mature sugar bananas were on the
ground. Total loss of around 50 formed bunches and another 100 which
would have formed over the next 4 months
Eight (of 18) Breadfruit have been pruned from 10m high
down to around 3m, but none have been killed and I believe that
regrowth will be rapid.
Two Black Sapote (of 9) have been uprooted, and damaged
beyond repair. Others show no damage apart from loss of crop (due
for picking in April).
Most of our Durian were within this band. Six have been
broken off at ground level, 6 have lost at least half of their timber,
8 are undamaged except for wind burn and leaf drop.
Ten (of 24) Abiu have been broken off at ground level or
damaged beyond repair.
One (of 6) Mamey Sapote screwed out of the ground. Others
are undamaged and still hold immature fruit.
Six (of 22) Rambutan are bent to the ground. Two of these
have been pruned to 2 meters and staked up, the others are damaged
Three of 5 Rollinia torn out of the ground.
Six of 15 Soursop bent to ground level. These have been
pruned to 2 m and staked up.
Of 14 Rambai most have been pushed flat. They have been
staked and pruned.
The largest of 4 Avocado was pushed flat.
Jakfruit showed little damage. Only where weak from Pinks
disease or hit by another tree, usually coconut were they down.
Mangosteen, were only damaged by being hit by falling trees,
usually coconuts or Jakfruit. Two were snapped in half. Four had
several branches snapped. Twenty or so were leaning to 45 degrees
or so and have been staked after being bent straight. Hopefully
they will survive the disturbance.
Mature Glyricidia ( a tropical legume shade tree)also showed
little damage. They had all been pruned in the previous season and
the new growth was very flexible. Areas sheltered by mature Glyricidia
showed little damage beneath. Juvenile Glyricidia were down.
Salaks were basically undamaged although all are leaning.
Maintenance will be difficult for six months or so until they grow
upright. Many were buried under debris for up to one month before
Coconut is a poor choice for a shelter belt. If they break, the
whole plant goes causing much collateral damage due to the wide
head. Glyricidia works very well for shade and wind shelter if coppiced.
Aim for big trunks and long thin branches. Breadfruit may work well
in spite of being so weak. No tress were broken low down, all are
reshooting. Fiji Longan may also be successful in a similar way,
but my sample size is too small. Mangosteen and Salak were excellent
choices for commercial crops in cyclone areas.
Softwooded species such as Santol, Rambai and Durian are easily
damaged but probably reshoot quickly. Need to watch to see how long
these trees take to bearing fruit again.
The ribbons of damage obvious on our farm are not so obvious in
the forest or on other farms. These ribbons run essentially east
west, meaning that rows of trees planted north south
are more likely to go down than trees in rows planted east
west. This was also noticeable on Grays property after Cyclone Joy.
OBSERVATIONS FROM OTHER PROPERTIES
Small hardwood fruit trees such as Jaboticaba and Grumichama
broken of at ground level on Masons and Grays. Damage to vase shaped
Durian seems more severe than damage to christmas tree shape.
Mature Mangosteen on Grays lower block to about 5m
height left undamaged although forest on both sides showed extensive
damage. Large Star Apples on Kirchners were extensively damaged
although the few on our block were untouched. Ours are spindly with
little lateral growth while Kirchners are spreading with round canopies
at about 10 m high. These were pushed over or had larger branches
IN THE END
We are now putting all our time into clearing up the farm so that
it doesn't look too disgusting to walk through with fruit tasters.
We have had more than 1000mm in 4 days in the middle week of March
and the orchard is a mudbath - the ducks love it
Alison and Digby