Bushfire orchard recovery

With the recent bushfires throughout the Berry Springs, Lambells Lagoon and the Arnhem Highway region affecting properties and mango orchards in the area, it is a good time to assess what resources are available to growers affected by bushfires.

DPIR is able to assist with on-farm advice at an orchard level, including pest and disease management and, where required, animal welfare advice.

Be prepared

Before we get into recovery, here are some quick tips to make sure you are prepared for the bushfire season:

  • Keep your inter-row managed and create fire breaks.
  • Consider herbicides if you cannot get a slasher in and manage gamba grass.
  • Maintain your firebreaks. They should be at least 4 metres wide and run around the property as well as around permanent structures.
  • Prepare a plan for your property.
  • Follow Bushfires NT or SecureNT on social media to keep up to date on what’s happening in your area:
  • facebook.com/BushfiresNT
  • twitter.com/bushfiresnt
  • SecureNT

Orchard management after a bushfire

Assess the damage

Unless trees have been killed outright it can sometimes take several weeks to assess the full impact.

  • Check the damage to the bark, roots and cambium. Peel back a small portion of the bark. If the tissue underneath (cambium layer) is moist and creamy white or tan in colour it is still alive and there is a chance of recovery. If it is dry and red or brown, it is dead or damaged.
  • Extensive damage to the cambium will kill the tree, however if the cambium layer is healthy it may reshoot.
  • Wait for the regrowth to assess the tree for uneven growth. If the plant is badly skewed it may not be very functional.
  • Check your irrigation lines as heat from bushfires can melt and destroy irrigation and ash can block your lines. Stressed trees are particularly vulnerable and getting the irrigation back on line will help their recovery.
  • Protect plants from sunburn if they have lost foliage. Spray-on products can be bought from local agricultural suppliers or white paint can be painted onto exposed trunks and branches.
  • On badly damaged trees, remove the fruit to prevent unwanted stress and reduce the pest and disease build-up.
  • Pruning and fertiliser should be delayed until regrowth has begun.
  • Keep an eye out for Longicorn borer in particular, as it is renowned for affecting stressed trees. Read through the Longicorn borer information sheet for details about this pest.
  • Trees damaged by bushfires can take a couple of seasons to return to cropping and may not be economically viable in the long run.
  • Block viability and replacement strategies should be made in consultation with your insurance company. Technical advice on plants or pests and diseases can be sourced from DPIR or NT Farmers.

Manage tree recovery

  • Check your irrigation lines as heat from bushfires can melt and destroy irrigation and ash can block your lines. Stressed trees are particularly vulnerable and getting the irrigation back on line will help their recovery.
  • Protect plants from sunburn if they have lost foliage. Spray-on products can be bought from local agricultural suppliers or white paint can be painted onto exposed trunks and branches.
  • On badly damaged trees, remove the fruit to prevent unwanted stress and reduce the pest and disease build-up.
  • Pruning and fertiliser should be delayed until regrowth has begun.
  • Keep an eye out for Longicorn borer in particular, as it is renowned for affecting stressed trees. Read through the Longicorn borer information sheet for details about this pest.
  • Trees damaged by bushfires can take a couple of seasons to return to cropping and may not be economically viable in the long run.
  • Block viability and replacement strategies should be made in consultation with your insurance company. Technical advice on plants or pests and diseases can be sourced from DPIR or NT Farmers.

More information

Back to top