Families across South Australia are still coming to terms with the fallout from the wild weather that upended their lives a week ago.

Key points:

  • The storms ravaged South Australia on October 28th, 2021
  • Hail snapped crop stalks and grain fell to the ground, which could attract mice
  • Farmers were looking at some of their best crops grown in years before the storms hit

Kelsey and Saxon Kay’s home at Murdinga on the Eyre Peninsula had its entire roof peeled off during storms on October 28.

The car shed next to the house was also ripped apart and the shearing shed lost walls and parts of its roof too. 

Luckily for the family, Saxon was at work and Kelsey was in Port Lincoln with her two girls, three-year-old Piper and one-year-old Haddie.

Mrs Kay said they were still not sure what caused the damage.

Kelsey Kay is grateful that she, Piper and Haddie weren’t at home.(ABC Rural: Brooke Neindorf)

“I haven’t looked back to see what the weather was doing at the time, but from what people are saying it was a tornado or something that whipped through there.

“It must have been pretty strong to take a shed down and a roof off of a house.

She said she was grateful the family was not at home at the time.

“We may have been OK being in the house, but our car would have been destroyed and the noise would have been absolutely horrific.

“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone to go through something like that.”

Volunteers helped the family remove all their belongings.(Supplied: Kelsey Kay)

She said she became emotional when thinking about the amount of help they received.

“There was 15 to 20 people at the house with trailers, and they just got everything out of the house that we could save and took it to a house that was so generously offered to us.” 

“Our three-year-old has quite severe allergies, so her eczema has flared up severely since, but all my friends and family have taken loads of washing and have washed our toys and our bedding and everything like that.

Crops around the farm were also damaged, with the Kays hopeful they can still get some of the grain off this season.

“At the moment it is just one step at a time,” Mrs Kay said.

Roof insulation fell on their belongings, including in three-year-old Piper’s room.(Supplied: Kelsey Kay)

Clean up for pest prevention

Closer to Eyre Peninsula’s coast, farmers copped some of the biggest hail they had ever seen which knocked grain to the ground.

For many it was going to be one of the best crops they had had in years, but Wharminda farmer Caleb Prime said nearly all of his paddocks received some kind of damage.

“On the lower scale, damage ranges from 5 to 10 per cent, while some was 60 to 80 per cent damaged, with heads of grain knocked out onto the ground,” he said.

“The canola is quite sensitive to hail and that has been pretty well smashed, and the wheat hasn’t seemed to handle it as well as barley for whatever reason.”

Caleb Prime will harvest the damaged crop to prevent mice coming for the dropped grain.(Supplied: Caleb Prime)

Mr Prime said his focus was now on harvest and cleaning up the paddocks to prevent mice.

“We will still put the header through to try and pick up the grains that might still be there, but also to try and manage the stubble loads for seeding next year as well as trying to manage the risk of mice.

“There is more than three tonnes of wheat on the ground in some areas, so with such a large food source mice are a worry.”

Best crop gone

Sixty kilometres north of Adelaide, farmers at Freeling are also reeling from the storm damage.

Corbin Schuster said he had been looking at some of his best ever wheat and lentil crops, but now was not sure what, if anything, he would be able to reap.

“Conservatively, it’s a 75 to 80 per cent loss,” he said.

“From a distance it doesn’t even look affected, but when you get closer it looks like someone has tried to harvest it.”

Corbin Schuster says he’s never seen hail do so much damage to his crops. (ABC Rural: Lucas Forbes)

Mr Schuster had crop insurance but he said that did little to assuage the frustration of seeing hard work go to waste.

“This time of year is when the year 12 students do their exams and all they’re worried about is that number at the end of the year — farmers are the same way, except our number is the yield monitor.

Hail shattered Corbin Schuster’s wheat crop.(ABC Rural: Lucas Forbes)

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